Skin-to-skin contact is described as holding the unclothed, diapered newborn on the mother’s bare chest. AKA “kangaroo care”. It is recommended that all stable full term newborns (37 weeks or greater) born vaginal or cesarean delivery be placed skin-to-skin immediately for at least the first hour of life or until the first breastfeeding is completed. This initial kangaroo care should be uninterrupted, meaning grandma and other visitors will need to be patient before they hold baby. This allows for better breastfeeding, stabilization of vital sigs, temperature regulation, and bonding. Think about it, they’ve been inside of you for 37 weeks! Of course they want to be as close to you as possible.
Mom’s also have reduced risk of postpartum depression, reduced stress, and increased feelings of bonding and confidence in breastfeeding if they choose to do so. Routine care of the newborn should be delayed or can be done while baby is on mommy’s chest, evidence shows that skin-to-skin reduces the response to painful stimuli such as heel sticks and the hepatitis shot. In the instance that mom is unstable, dad is encouraged to do skin-to-skin with the newborn.
When infants skin-to-skin on their father’s chest they stop crying sooner, become calmer, and reach a drowsy state more quickly than when they are placed in a crib. Be sure to talk with your doctor and nurses about your desire to skin-to-skin. Even in the case of a c-section, ask if this is an option. If your baby is full term and you are both stable this should absolutely be routine! Also, it is recommended to continue kangaroo care 1-2 hours a day for the first week of life. It is truly a beautiful once in a lifetime experience, don’t miss it!
From your friendly neighborhood nurse.