7 Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact with Newborns

7 Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact with Newborns | Baby Chick

7 Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact with Newborns

Newborn baby smell… It’s addicting. Ask pretty much every new mom (or any woman ever), and she will tell you the same thing. As soon as you see and smell your little one, all you want to do is cuddle them close and breathe them in. *sigh* It’s normal to have that instinct to bring baby close. A recent study found that a newborn baby’s smell is as addictive as drugs or food. Not surprising, but isn’t that crazy?! And did you know that there are many benefits to bringing baby close? Right after giving birth is the best and most important time to do so.

Immediately bringing baby up to the mother’s chest and not having a blanket or clothing between the two is so beneficial and something every woman should do. This is called skin-to-skin or kangaroo care. If mom or baby is in distress or need of immediate medical attention, skin-to-skin time can wait. If everyone is doing well and is healthy, there is absolutely no reason why every woman shouldn’t do skin-to-skin. Checking the baby’s weight and doing their measurements can wait. It has been proven by multiple studies why skin-to-skin should be done for at least an hour right after birth and if you want to know why you should do it, besides the newborn smell, here are some benefits of skin-to-skin that prove it’s the best thing to do with your newborn.

1. Keeps Baby Warm, Regulates Their Breathing & Keeps Their Blood Sugar Levels Higher

Did you know that your breasts and abdomen can stabilize your baby’s vitals and keep your baby warm better than a baby warmer/incubator? It’s true! Mothers can naturally adjust “the warmth of their breasts to keep their infants at the optimal temperature,” says Midwifery Today. “Maternal breast temperature can rise rapidly, then fall off as baby is warmed. As the baby starts to cool, the breasts heat up again—as much as 2 degrees C in two minutes!” That’s 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Isn’t that incredible?!

Also, because newborn babies’ systems are immature, they can sometimes temporarily stop breathing and/or have slow heart rates. While most of the time they can begin breathing again on their own, the cues you provide by breathing and your heart beating are what their little bodies can learn from more quickly to organize essential systems. As you breathe, the baby will synchronize their breath and heartbeat to yours. And there isn’t a baby warmer in the world that can do that.

2. Improves Chances of Breastfeeding

A huge benefit of skin-to-skin is that babies are more likely to nurse sooner and nurse longer. You don’t even have to force baby to your breast when you’re doing skin-to-skin. Have you heard of the breast crawl? Your baby can find your breasts and latch himself/herself on. (Sometimes they need a little assistance if you had a medicated birth or if they have lip-tie or tongue-tie.) Also, the sooner you can establish breastfeeding the sooner it can help establish mama’s milk supply.

“In a study of 21 babies after vaginal birth, 3 researchers divided them into two groups. One group was laid skin-to-skin on the mother’s body, examined briefly, then returned to skin-to-skin contact for two hours. The other group was shown to the mother, examined, and swaddled with hands-free and then returned to the mother. The swaddled group showed delayed feeding behaviors, suckled less competently at their first breastfeeding, and established effective breastfeeding later.” Read here for more about this study.

3. Enhances Bonding

What I and a lot of the professionals in the birthing industry call the first hour after birth is ‘The Golden Hour’. This is a time in which “both mother and child are best primed to form an intense chemical connection with each other,” writes Patty Onderko, who is a mother of twin boys. What makes ‘The Golden Hour’ so “golden” is the hormone oxytocin – aka the “love hormone”. Which helps the uterus contract during labor and also plays a critical role in bonding and helps with lactation.

Patty wrote this article after having a cesarean that resulted in just a brief moment of contact after her boys arrived. I love that she says that no one factor makes or breaks us as mothers. I could not agree more. This is not to say women who have cesareans cannot practice skin-to-skin/kangaroo care. They often can!

4. Helps Baby Cry Less

A study in the journal Pediatrics reports that “skin-to-skin contact for as little as three hours a day can reduce infant crying by 43 percent.” Let’s just put that out there again. 43%!!! “This can lead to lower stress levels for a new mother who is otherwise unsure how to calm her crying infant.” Another reason why I highly encourage skin-to-skin and, not only that, babywearing. Dad’s can do it, too!

5. Makes Baby Sleep Better

The same study from the journal Pediatrics said, “skin-to-skin contact helps infants fall asleep more easily and also sleep for a longer period. This allows the new mother to get more rest and reduce stress levels.” Huge! This is a major reason why mothers should be resting with their babies on their chests doing skin-to-skin so they can both sleep more soundly.

6. Improves Baby’s Gut Health & Immunity

Skin-to-skin also helps the baby’s digestive system mature. A study reports that the contact “stimulates the vagal nerve, causing increased growth in the size of the villi in the newborn gut, which provides a larger surface area for the absorption of nutrition.” There is also “less chance of infection because babies given kangaroo mother care become colonized with the bacteria on their mother’s skin. This causes her milk to produce antibodies in response and makes it specifically protective against those bacteria. In other words, it strengthens their immune system. This is by far one of the main kangaroo care benefits in both poor and wealthy countries alike.” – Nurture Through Touch. A great thing to do if your baby is experiencing colic since this is sometimes linked to gut/digestive issues.

7. Reduced Postpartum Depression

So many things can cause women to have postpartum depression. New research suggests that skin-to-skin contact immediately following birth may reduce postpartum depression in moms. Being able to hold, kiss, snuggle, smell, and breastfeed your baby right after birth all stimulate intricate hormonal patterns within the mother that reinforce mothering behaviors and feelings of well-being. Some experts believe that if she is not able to experience those things that the mother’s body interprets this as something going wrong with the birth and/or her baby. This can induce a stress/grief response that, in some cases, may create feelings of anxiety or depression.

According to the study in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological, and Neonatal Nursing, “skin-to-skin contact between the mother and baby may be an alternative therapy for mothers trying to avoid taking medication. The study reveals that new mothers who had six hours of skin-to-skin contact during the first week followed by at least two hours during the next month reported fewer depressive symptoms. Saliva samples confirmed lower cortisol levels, a marker of stress, than their counterparts. For a baby, skin-to-skin contact helps fulfill the need for human contact and promotes bonding. The touching releases the hormone oxytocin in the mother, which encourages infant/mother attachment and increases the feeling of well-being and relaxation.”

What’s great about skin-to-skin is that it is free and has no side effects. “Unlike other interventions to reduce depressive symptoms in the postpartum months, skin-to-skin care is easy to use, readily accessible, cost-effective, and without adverse effects,” said AWHONN’s Chief Executive Officer, Karen Peddicord, Ph.D., RN. “Therefore, women’s health professionals can encourage their patients to practice mother/infant skin-to-skin care as an intervention strategy to lessen depressive symptoms and anxiety while improving maternal mood.”

Who Can Do Skin-To-Skin?

“Skin to skin with baby is good for all types of births, assuming your baby is stable, as most full-term babies are at birth. Even after a cesarean birth (c-section) mom can hold baby skin to skin or dad if mom is not available. Skin to skin care for preterm babies is also important and many NICUs will direct you in how to use skin-to-skin care to help stabilize your new baby,” says childbirth educator, Robin Weiss.

If you want to be skin-to-skin, be sure to let your practitioners know before you go into labor and have your baby!

To recap, skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, which lasts for at least an hour (and should continue for as many hours as possible throughout the day and night for the first number of weeks) has the following positive effects. The baby:

  • Maintains his body temperature normal better even than in an incubator
  • Maintains his heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure normal
  • Has higher blood sugar
  • Is more likely to latch on
  • Will indicate to his mother when he is ready to feed
  • Is more likely to latch on well
  • Is more likely to breastfeed exclusively and breastfeed longer
  • Bonds better with the mother and father
  • Is less likely to cry
  • Sleeps better and longer
  • Has better gut health and stronger immunity
  • Being skin-to-skin helps reduce the chances of the mother having postpartum depression

Who wouldn’t want their baby to have all of these benefits? And it’s completely free! Did you do skin-to-skin with your newborn?

About the Author /

Nina is The Baby Chick® & CEO of Baby Chick®. She is a baby planner, birth doula, postpartum doula, childbirth educator, newborn care specialist, and a mother. With over eight years of experience, she has supported hundreds of families during their pregnancies, births, and postpartum journeys.

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In our culture, it is common for women to feel nervous and even fearful of childbirth. We've all heard scary horror stories from other people about their babies' births. But something that people aren't as willing to share is how much of a turd toddlerhood can be. 💩 Don't get me wrong. I LOVE and ADORE my crazy toddler. But he is the true definition of a sour patch kid. Sour one moment and then sweet the next. He keeps me on my toes almost every minute of every day. 🤪 When I think about the day I gave birth to him, I think, "Psssshhh, that's child's play compared to what this kid puts me through on the regular." Why aren't more people acknowledging that, yes, childbirth can be tough, but wrangling a toddler isn't much easier? This is just my personal experience, but some mothers might agree. Here is why I believe childbirth is easier than parenting a toddler. {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
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After giving birth, I remember how my midwives made my bed with fresh linens and with me in it feeling comfortable as I nestled with my newborn son. I remember how a meal was brought to me in bed and how everything was cleaned up and looked as if nothing happened -- not like I had just given birth to a baby. (I had a home birth, by the way.) And I remember how they were all with me by my side every step of the way.⁠
I felt the love, the patience, and the respect that I needed. Those are the memories that I hold with me when I think about the day my son was born. It's how I was cared for and how my birth team made me feel that stays with me.⁠
For expecting women out there, be intentional with the people that you invite into your birthing room. That includes your doctor, your midwife, and your support people. I know that things look very different right now with hospitals only allowing one support person, but you can still receive good support. Take an online birthing class with your partner and practice how they can help you in labor. Speak up to your nurse and ask for what you need and what you want for your experience. Be your own advocate! And if you feel like you can't speak up, hire a doula and receive virtual support during your pregnancy, birth, and immediate postpartum. Feeling supported, respected, and truly cared for is just as important as having a successful birth with a healthy mom and baby. 💗
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One day a pregnant client of mine started having a One day a pregnant client of mine started having abdominal pain. She called her OBGYN's office and they had her come in to check on the baby to make sure everything was okay. Everything looked fine and well with the baby so they sent her home saying that it was probably something that she ate and that it must be gas or indigestion pain.
Days went by and the pain not only continued but it got WORSE. I encouraged her to continue reaching out to her doctor, which she did. She would call the office and the nurse and doctor would tell her that everything was fine. They told her what meds she could take that could help, and that if she wanted to come in again the next day, she could.
The next day she went in and they looked at the baby and the baby was still perfect. They told her to go home and said to her, "You must have a very low pain tolerance because everything is appearing normal." Little did they know that she had labored for days and delivered her first baby withOUT any pain medication. (She had a different OBGYN with her first baby.) This client of mine is a strong woman and definitely does NOT have a low pain tolerance. I would know because I was her doula for both of her babies.
The pain she experienced only got worse the next day. She was in agony. She did her own research and thought it might be appendicitis. She decided to drive herself to the hospital this time without calling and told the nurse that she was in severe pain and that she thinks she has appendicitis. The nurse said, "there is no way that you could have appendicitis. You wouldn't be able to stand or drive yourself here or even talk if you had appendicitis." My client demanded that she see a doctor to get evaluated. Once a doctor was available to see her and examine her safely (since she was 34 weeks pregnant) they realized that, in fact, she DID have appendicitis & that it was so bad she needed immediate emergency surgery since it could be life-threatening. The surgery then caused her body to go into labor. Just hours after her surgery she pushed & delivered her second child.
I tell this story because I have seen & been told countless stories like this. (Continue reading in the comments.)
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The Ultimate List of Grandpa Names⁠ 👴⁠ .⁠ The Ultimate List of Grandpa Names⁠ 👴⁠
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We recently posted our ultimate list of Grandma names, but you might be looking for the perfect match for a Grandpa name. 💙 Many fathers that turn into Grandpas usually go with what their dads were called as grandparents or something traditional, but we encourage you to take a look at all of the options! There just might be a better fit that suits you. 😊 Here is our ultimate list of over 100 Grandpa names to choose from!⁠
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Something that I think ALL mothers should know and learn is that you do NOT have to own or accept any information or stories someone tells you if it does not serve you. If it's unhelpful and not inline with your choices, hopes, and desires as a mother, then as soon as it was received immediately discard it. Don't harbor any information that does a disservice to you. The mind is a powerful thing. When we are told war stories and how terrible, awful, or painful things were for them (pregnancy, childbirth, or parenthood), that can live and stay with you. You do not have to own someone else's story. It may have been told with good intentions, but if you do not find value in it let it go. Release it and surround yourself with positive talk, uplifting stories, and happy, respectful, and supportive people.⁠ Be bold enough to go against the grain if you must and do what is right for you and your family.⁠
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When a first baby is born, so is a new mother. 💗 The transition to motherhood can be a very difficult one that is impossible to be fully prepared for. As you become a mother you take on a completely new identity. It is a new phase of life that comes with new challenges, emotions, and growth.⁠ 🌱⁠
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As a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit occupational therapist, I find that I take care of the mothers just as much as I take care of the babies. ❤️ Many, if not most mothers, are prepared with the tangibles: a place for the new baby to sleep, clothes for the new baby to wear, bottles, and diapers. But it is impossible to fully prepare for the emotional transition that takes place. New moms are met with not only a little baby who is completely dependent but also a barrage of new and different emotions that you may not fully understand.⁠ {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
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Surprising Body Changes During Pregnancy – Podca Surprising Body Changes During Pregnancy – Podcast Ep 33⁠ 😮⁠
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Pregnancy is such a beautiful time in a woman's life. 💕 But don't get me wrong, not every day of pregnancy is glamorous. 😬 We've all heard of the luxurious hair, the glowing skin, the stretchmarks with the growing belly, but there are also things that happen to a woman's body during pregnancy that aren't really discussed. That's why we are covering all of the surprising body changes a woman can experience during pregnancy on today's podcast episode. So if you're currently expecting and are noticing some odd changes happening to your body, you can feel relieved knowing that you are not alone. 🤰 {Click 🔗 in bio to listen to the episode!}⁠
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Happy Monday, mamas!⁠ 👋⁠ ⁠ Lately, with e Happy Monday, mamas!⁠ 👋⁠
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Lately, with everything going on, I've been thinking a lot about mothers with newborns. 🤱 As a postpartum doula, I get the pleasure of supporting new families in their homes and helping them navigate the winding roads and highs and lows of early parenthood. But right now I know that families are bringing home their precious babies and are feeling alone more than ever. They have less physical support, which can feel like they have less emotional and informational support as well. This breaks my heart. 💔 I wish this wasn't happening to families or to our world and I wish that I could be there for these moms.⁠
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That's why today, I am hopping on our stories and answering YOUR questions. Since I can't be there PHYSICALLY to help you with your pregnancy and newborns, I want you to know that I am here virtually for you. How can I help?⁠
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{I've left a question box in our stories. Have a question about your postpartum recovery? About your newborn? About breastfeeding? Bottle-feeding? You name it! I've been helping mothers as a birth doula and postpartum doula for 10 years and I am here for you.💕}⁠
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Okay, grandma. 🙄⁠ 📷: unknown Okay, grandma. 🙄⁠
📷: unknown
To the mamas, papas, dreamers, visionaries, SAHMs, To the mamas, papas, dreamers, visionaries, SAHMs, etc. out there, kudos to you! For going so hard, for not quitting even on the worst days, even on the tired days, even on the days you don't know how you're going to do it, or don't feel like you can. You know it's okay to have some patience, grace, and forgiveness with yourself, right?⁠
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Our children are the future. I had to learn to give myself some grace. Sometimes when I evaluate where I am in life and see that I'm not exactly where I want to be or could've been frustrates me, or gets me down. I'm so hard on myself. But then I realized if the ONLY good thing I've done or successfully done is raise great children, I am in fact doing well!! *Parents, it's so important how we raise our children, and many of you KNOW that is not an easy task.⁠
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There are so many different aspects on this one topic. First, their confidence, self-love, etc. is so important. They need to know who they are, so when they encounter times and people that aren't so kind they are not completely crushed.⁠
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Secondly, think about who you're putting into the world. Do you remember your heartbreak(s), or some of the sh*%$y people you've come across and thought who raised them? Or even when you encountered a child that needed a hug or just some TLC. It's important!⁠
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Thirdly, but not least, for the dreamer or the visionary . . . Yes, we are working so hard for our dreams and goals. And one day we may achieve them, but our building and growing may also be in the building for our children. As we are building a future for them. Show yourself a little love. ❤️"⁠
Words & 📷: @tanishasnell_
"On my headstone, I hope they write, 'Here lies a "On my headstone, I hope they write, 'Here lies a devoted mother who suffocated under her enormous laundry pile.' #kiddingnotkidding⁠
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I'm trying to be more mindful about laundry and use it as a meditation practice (my main squeeze Thich Nhat Hanh talks about washing your dishes like you're bathing baby Buddha. 😊) Sometimes I can do it and feel grateful and grounded (I find cloth diapers particularly soothing for some reason. 🤷‍♀️) And sometimes I consider just turning our living room into one huge laundry pile and letting everyone forage for their clothes each morning. #wildstyle⁠
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So tell me, wise women of the world--how do you do laundry? Are you a load-a-day type or do you wait until it piles up and tackle it all at once?"⁠
Words & 📷: @spiritysol
It's called balance. And motherhood. And it's the It's called balance. And motherhood. And it's the weekend. 💁‍♀️🤪 Cheers!
Want to jazz up breakfast or lunch for the kids (o Want to jazz up breakfast or lunch for the kids (or yourself 😉) in an easy way? Animal Face Toast! 😍⁠
Pop an emoji for your favorite animal!🐱🦉🦊🐻🐷🐵⁠
📷: @weelicious
Staying safe for mom and baby has never been tough Staying safe for mom and baby has never been tougher than it is now. 😷 Shout out to all the pregnant moms and moms with newborns!! You are amazing. 🙇‍♀️ You are strong. 💪 And our hearts are with you. ❤️⁠
📷: @themommaprentice
The Ultimate List of Grandma Names 👵⁠ ⁠.⁠ The Ultimate List of Grandma Names 👵⁠
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When I found out I was pregnant, one of the many things I began to wonder was, "What are my parents and in-laws going to go by as their grandparent names?" Grandparents are not just going with the classic "Grandma and Grandpa" names anymore. Some are now getting creative and are coming up with new ideas. If your mother or mother-in-law are unsure of what they want their special Grandma names to be, we're sharing our ultimate list of over 100 Grandma names to choose from!⁠ ❤️ ⁠{Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
📷: @newmommy_in_city