Skin-to-skin contact, also known as kangaroo care, refers to placing a baby on their front in contact with the mother’s chest. Skin-to-skin contact should ideally start at birth, but is helpful at any time. All mothers and babies can benefit from skin-to-skin contact regardless of feeding method. Fathers can also provide skin-to-skin contact and are welcome to participate.
Babies who are separated from their mothers experience profound stress and studies have shown that babies who are removed from their mothers in the hospital cry 10 times more than those left skin to skin. Immediate skin to skin contact after birth creates a unique bonding and can protect infants against infection through exposure to the mother’s microflora. It also plays an important role in the prevention of allergic diseases for the babies.
Skin-to-skin contact should be uninterrupted and unhurried which allows the baby to progress through the steps of attachment. The baby can wear a nappy and hat for comfort and warmth. A warm towel or blanket can be placed over their backs.
Benefits of skin-to-skin contact
- More stable and normal skin temperature, heart rate and blood pressure
- Stable blood sugar levels
- Feel less pain during medical procedures
- Less likely to cry
- Less likely to have breastfeeding problems
- More likely to latch on well
- More likely to breastfeed exclusively for longer
- Protection against infection through exposure to maternal normal flora
- Helps prevent allergic diseases
- Calming effect
- Enhanced bonding
- Higher oxytocin levels to stimulate milk production
- Better milk flow
- Increased milk production
If you wish to perform skin to skin contact with your newborn after birth, you can put this in your birth plan or let your midwife know. It is also important to discuss your birth plan with your obstetrician. The midwives at the Matilda Maternity Department will take time to go through your birth plan and will accommodate to your needs as much as possible.
The materials contained here are for general health information only, and are not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Matilda International Hospital and Matilda Medical Centre will not be liable for any decisions the reader makes based on this material
Information provided by:
Maternity Department, Matilda International Hospital
Jack Newman MD (2009). The Importance of Skin to Skin Contact Family Health Service Department of Health, Hong Kong