Following the birth of your baby

Skin to Skin Contact

Immediately following the birth, you will be encouraged to hold your baby in skin contact (baby naked or in just a nappy placed on your bare tummy and chest, both covered with a warm blanket). This practice facilitates the baby’s natural instinctive behaviours and encourages maternal /infant bonding and attachment. This is a very special time for mothers and babies and it is important it is not rushed or interrupted unnecessarily. Skin contact at this time should be maintained for as long as possible and ideally until after the first breastfeed (minimum 1 hour). If for some reason you are unable to have skin contact after the birth, you will be encouraged to have it as soon as both you and baby are able. Fathers may also have skin contact but it is especially important for the mother. Skin contact has many ongoing benefits and can and should be revisited often in the early days. If you have chosen not to breastfeed your baby, you should be assisted to give the first formula feed in skin contact.

Skin contact is important for all babies as it:

  • Helps to keep your baby warm
  • Helps regulate your baby’s heart rate and breathing
  • Helps to calm both you and baby (reducing stress hormones)
  • Encourages bonding and a positive relationship between you and your baby
  • Facilitates your baby’s instinctive breast seeking behaviour resulting in an early breastfeed - research shows that skin contact and early feeding promotes successful breastfeeding.

Keeping your Baby Close (sometimes called ‘Rooming-in’)

You will keep your baby close beside you at all times – in a cot in the same room as you. Keeping your baby close-by gives you the opportunity to get to know and gain confidence in caring for your baby. You will learn to recognise the baby’s feeding cues and be responsive to his/her needs. It also helps to alert you if there is a problem with the baby can help reduce the incidence of cot death.

To read more on feeding your baby click here.