The Importance of Skin to Skin after Birth

Many studies have found babies benefit from skin to skin contact with their mothers and fathers after giving birth.  Skin to skin, often called kangaroo care, is when babies are held naked against their mother’s skin for a minimum of 1 to 2 hours after birth. Midwives would argue skin to skin contact is beneficial several hours a day for a least 2 weeks. There are many reasons to implement kangaroo care. Immediate skin to skin after birth eases baby’s transition from uterine life ensuring temperature, breathing, and heart rate stabilization. While mothers benefit from this practice by keeping the uterus firm which can decrease bleeding. Skin to skin also increases breastfeeding success and decreases postpartum depression. Studies suggest that benefits for babies can persist for years. Skin to skin improves maternal attachment behavior, reduced maternal anxiety, enhances child cognitive development and increases successful breastfeeding. Babies tend to cry less, leading to less parental stress and anxiety. When the baby passes through the birth canal, the baby’s gut is colonized with bacteria from the mother’s vaginal. Skin to skin continues to expose the baby to the mother’s bacteria and microbes. This early exposure helps babies develop their own healthy bacteria. Exposure to microbes is associated with protection inflammatory bowel disease and asthma. Once this time is over you can’t get it back, so stay in bed, snuggle up and love your babe. Diapers are okay, and a blanket can be used for warmth.

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