Skin to skin after birth
The first hour after giving birth has become known as the ‘Magical’, ‘Golden’ or ‘Sacred’ hour. This is because it is such a special time when you get to meet your baby for the first time – and baby gets to meet you!
Skin to skin contact helps baby to settle and relax after their birth experience. Babies will recognise their mother’s smell and the sound of her voice, making the bright and intense outside world not such a scary place.
Being in skin to skin contact helps baby to feel less stressed. Research shows that babies who are held in skin to skin after birth have more regular breathing, keep warm and regulate their temperature, regulate their heartbeat and cry less.
Mothers who have skin to skin contact with their babies enjoy the close feeling of cuddling their new baby, and show more natural mothering behaviours towards their baby. Skin to skin can help mothers to feel more confident in their new role.
The UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative sets standards for hospitals in order to help promote parents and infant relationship building and breastfeeding. Facilitating skin to skin contact is a core part of their standards. They have produced this video to show the benefits of skin to skin and show how parents feel about it. It is aimed at health professionals, but you might find it helpful to watch.