Skin-To-Skin Contact: Hospitals Now Let Mom Snuggle With Her Newborn

by Doraine Bailey

After nine long months, the first thing you’ll want to do after your baby is born is to hold him or her close to your heart!

It used to be, however, that doctors and nurses in the labor room took the baby away right after birth for tests, measuring and cleaning.

Although the baby came back to you after 10-20 minutes, it seemed like an eternity!

Happily, many doctors and nurses in labor and delivery are now learning how to do all of those tasks right after birth as you hold your baby.

Better yet, the baby can remain unswaddled, with her fresh smooth skin snuggled right up to your bare chest with both of you covered with warm blankets.

Holding your baby like this is called “skin-to-skin” or sometimes “Kangaroo Care.”

Hospitals throughout Kentucky are  now offering Birth Kangaroo Care to mothers and babies immediately after the baby is born.

Research shows that babies who are snuggled on mom’s bare chest within minutes after birth are warmer, calmer, more alert and eager to eat.

Premature or sick babies held skin-to-skin are better protected from stress and release more growth hormones.

If mom can’t hold the baby right away, dad or another family member may be able to hold the baby skin-to-skin until mom is ready.

This could happen with a Cesarean Section delivery or if mom has complications.

Moms also benefit from Kangaroo care.

Snuggling close with baby helps to reduce the pain from repairing incisions or tears from birth, and releases hormones that help you relax and bond with the baby.

If you are breastfeeding, holding your baby close makes feedings easy and quick and can build your milk supply.

If your baby is early or sick, holding your baby skin-to-skin helps your baby grow and heal, and lets you be a part of your baby’s care if she has to stay in the hospital.

When you go on a hospital tour or attend childbirth education classes, ask about how hospital staff will help you hold your baby skin-to-skin right after birth.

Kangaroo Care doesn’t have to stop when you leave the hospital. The benefits of holding your baby close don’t go away.

When your baby is fussy, sick, tired, lonely or hungry, holding her skin-to-skin reduces the stress for both of you, improves feeding and brings calm.

Other family members can hold baby skin-to-skin as well. Everyone benefits.

As your baby gets older, you may spend less time snuggling skin-to-skin.

Keep holding and snuggling with your baby – even through clothes, your baby wants to be held close to feel secure and loved.


Easy ways to hold your baby skin-to-skin:

  • Place your baby’s bare chest  against the center of your bare chest and tummy-to-tummy.
  • Recline back in a chair or on the couch and cover both of you with warm blankets, and relax.
  • rap your baby snugly against your body with a long piece of fabric or a baby wrap.
  • In cool weather, wear a shirt, cardigan or jacket over the top to keep both of you warm.