For most babies, skin-to-skin contact is what they need to calm and warm them after birth. Skin-to-skin contact is also called kangaroo care.
During skin-to-skin contact, you and your baby will produce a hormone called oxytocin. This helps you feel close to your baby.
Skin-to-skin contact after the birth
Immediately after the birth, a midwife will dry your baby and place them on your chest. Your baby will be naked (except for a hat and nappy). You will get a blanket to keep you and your baby warm.
Enjoy this time, rest and relax together. This is your chance to get to know your baby. The hours after your baby's birth are the most important to bond and attach with your baby. This first contact is very important for building and maintaining a relationship with your baby.
Partner's skin-to-skin contact
Your birth partner can also take part in skin-to-skin contact to bond with the baby. If you or your baby are unable to try skin-to-skin contact after birth, you can start it later.
Signs of wanting to feed
During the first skin-to-skin contact, your baby may start showing signs of wanting to feed. They may move towards your breast and try to latch or attach to your breast. They may do this on their own, or need a little help from you. Keep your baby skin-to-skin during this first feed and afterwards, for as long as you wish.
Benefits of skin-to-skin contact
Skin-to-skin contact helps your baby:
- stay warm
- stabilise their body temperature
- feel less stress from being born
- adjust to life outside the womb
- stabilise their breathing
- regulate their blood sugar
- get good bacteria to protect against infection
Building a relationship with your baby
Skin-to-skin contact helps you to recognise and learn your baby's signals sooner. This includes signs of hunger, contentment, discomfort and many others.
Responsive parenting is an important part of forming a healthy relationship with your baby. This means that you are responding to your baby while accepting their needs and signals. For example, you may pick up on early signs of hunger before your baby even cries. Keep your baby close.
This type of parenting helps your baby form healthy brain connections. It encourages feelings of safety and comfort.
Remember, you cannot spoil your baby by responding to their needs in this way.