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Skin-to-Skin: The Benefits for You and Your Baby

Skin-to-skin contact has been gaining traction in the recent years for its incredible benefits for parents and their babies. But what is skin-to-skin contact and why is it so important?

What is skin-to-skin contact?

Skin-to-skin contact is when your baby is placed on your chest: bare skin, to bare skin. This means that you are not wearing a top and your baby is wearing nothing but a nappy. Your baby's head should be turned to the side so that it is easy for them to breathe. If you would like to do so, you can put a blanket or covering over you and your baby (ensure that your baby's head is not covered by the blanket or covering).

Who can do it?

Anyone can do skin-to-skin contact including the mother, father, siblings, grandparents etc.

When should you do it?

Skin-to-skin contact can be done at any time that works for you and your baby. There are some specific scenarios that have been shown to be particularly beneficial for your baby:

  • Immediately after birth

  • As much as possible when your baby has been born preterm

What are the benefits?

There are thousands of research studies showing the benefits of skin-to-skin contact, below are the most common and well-known benefits:

  • Improves physiological stability. This means that your baby's breathing, temperature, glucose levels and blood pressure are more stable and improved during skin-to-skin contact.

  • Your baby is less likely to cry and will show fewer signs of stress.

  • Supports brain development. The brain is still growing when babies are born, with the most critical period being before two years of age. During this critical period, babies are learning through sensory experiences (e.g. touch). Positive sensory experiences like skin-to-skin contact can, therefore, have an impact on how the brain develops. This is particularly important for preterm babies whose brains are rapidly developing as they approach term.

  • Skin-to-skin contact facilitates attachment which can help your baby self-regulate as they get older. The hormone, oxytocin, that get released in you and your baby during skin-to-skin is responsible for promoting this attachment.

  • Did you know that you are more likely to be successful with breastfeeding your baby if you do skin-to-skin contact? Yup, if breastfeeding if your goal, skin-to-skin contact is the way to go. When your baby is in skin-to-skin they can smell your milk and are more likely to self-attach onto the breast (particularly after birth).

  • Mothers may be more stable after caesarean sections when their babies are in skin-to-skin contact.

  • Skin-to-skin can reduce pain during procedures for preterm babies.

  • It can also reduce the risk of infection for small or preterm babies.

  • It can help improve your baby's digestion. As humans, our bodies are either in a 'fight or flight' (sympathetic) state or a 'rest and digest' (parasympathetic) state. Skin-to-skin contacts puts your baby into the parasympathetic state which increases blood flow to all your non-essential organs like your digestive tract (when I say non-essential, I mean non-essential during an emergency such as a lion chase).

  • Skin-to-skin contact can reduce maternal risk of postpartum depression.

*Please note that skin-to-skin contact is different to Kangaroo Mother Care. Kangaroo Mother Care is a programme that was designed for preterm babies which includes skin-to-skin contact amongst other steps (like breastfeeding and early discharge) to improve short- and long-term outcomes. These terms are often used interchangeably which can cause confusion. If you want to know more about Kangaroo Mother Care, check out Dr. Nils Bergman's website:

skin to skin contact

What is your experience of skin-to-skin contact?

If you have any concerns about your baby's feeding, contact us to book an appointment.


Casper, C., Sarapuk, I., & Pavlyshyn, H. (2018). Regular and prolonged skin-to-skin contact improves short-term outcomes for very preterm infants: a dose-dependent intervention. Archives de Pédiatrie, 25(8), 469-475.

Castral, T. C., Warnock, F., Leite, A. M., Haas, V. J., & Scochi, C. G. (2008). The effects of skin-to-skin contact during acute pain in preterm newborns. European Journal of Pain, 12(4), 464-471.

Cooijmans, K. H., Beijers, R., Brett, B. E., & de Weerth, C. (2022). Daily skin‐to‐skin contact in full‐term infants and breastfeeding: Secondary outcomes from a randomized controlled trial. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 18(1), e13241.

Oras, P., Thernström Blomqvist, Y., Hedberg Nyqvist, K., Gradin, M., Rubertsson, C., Hellström‐Westas, L., & Funkquist, E. L. (2016). Skin‐to‐skin contact is associated with earlier breastfeeding attainment in preterm infants. Acta Paediatrica, 105(7), 783-789.

Phillips, R. (2013). The sacred hour: Uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth. Newborn and Infant Nursing Reviews, 13(2), 67-72.

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