Norman Regional Health System

skin to skin

Sunday, November 5, 2017

One of the best ways to welcome your baby into the world is by doing “skin-to-skin” after birth, holding your infant directly against your chest after he or she is born. This offers many, many benefits, both physical and psychological for you and your child:

  1. Decreases your baby’s urge to cry
  2. Regulates your baby’s breathing and heart rate
  3. Maintains your baby’s temperature 
  4. Encourages higher and more stable blood sugars for your baby
  5. Stimulates your baby’s immune system
  6. Helps calm your baby during procedures
  7. Increases the chances your baby will exclusively breastfeed and breastfeed for a longer period of time
  8. Decreases your chances of excessive bleeding
  9. Decreases your anxiety and pain
  10. Increases your bonding with the baby
  11. Makes it easier for you to recognize and respond to your baby’s cues 
  12. Builds your confidence in infant care

How Does Skin-to-Skin Work?

After the birth, we’ll diaper your baby and place him or her directly on your chest with a blanket covering you both. You can hold your baby skin-to-skin for as long as you like, but we recommend at least one hour. We’ll limit interruptions, including visitors, so you can freely bond. Your baby will instinctively move through nine different stages (listed below). It’s a great time to breastfeed if you choose to.

The Nine Stages of Skin-to-Skin

All babies move through nine observable stages during skin-to-skin after delivery.

  1. Birth cry: Occurs immediately after birth when the lungs expand
  2. Relaxation: A period of quiet time after the birth cry
  3. Awakening: The baby begins to move head and shoulders; may open eyes and make small mouth movements
  4. Activity: Eyes remain open; may look for mom. Increased mouth and sucking movements. May also grasp mom’s breast
  5. Rest: The baby may rest at any time during the nine stages
  6. Crawling: The baby begins to approach the breast by leaping, sliding, crawling and/or pushing. Continues mouth and sucking movement, but is not quite ready to latch
  7. Familiarization: May grasp or mouth the breast while looking at mom; rubs own face and mouth with hands
  8. Suckling: Self-attaches to the nipple with minimal or no assistance
  9. Sleep: Baby and sometimes the mom fall into a deep sleep usually two hours after birth

Found this useful? Download our printable pamphlet about skin-to-skin.