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Answers to Common Skin-to-Skin Contact Questions

Atrium Medical Center answers frequently asked questions about skin-to-skin contact.

What does skin-to-skin mean?

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Skin-to-skin contact – also known as kangaroo care – is a way of bonding, promoting health and promoting breastfeeding for mothers and newborns.

To have skin-to-skin contact with your newborn means to place your newborn, wearing only a diaper, against your bare chest then covered by a layer of clothing or a blanket.

Though skin-to-skin contact was originally developed for mothers and newborns, fathers and partners can participate to promote bonding also.

For more information about skin-to-skin contact, talk to your physician.

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What benefits does skin-to-skin provide infants?

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Skin-to-skin contact - placing a baby wearing only a diaper on the mother’s bare chest – has been shown to benefit all newborn babies, especially those being treated in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, in a variety of ways.

Skin-to-skin contact between mothers and babies has been shown to benefit the infants by providing:

  • Warmth
  • Heart rate and breathing stability
  • Less crying
  • Increased weight gain
  • Increased breastfeeding
  • Increased time spent in deep sleep and quiet awake times

Talk to your physician to learn more about the benefits of having skin-to-skin contact with your new baby.

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When should mothers begin skin-to-skin contact?

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Mothers can begin bonding with their newborns using skin-to-skin contact right after birth.

Practicing skin-to-skin contact has been shown to help stabilize a baby’s breathing and heart rate and to promote breastfeeding.

Skin-to-skin also helps regulate a baby’s temperature.

To learn more about when the right time for you to start bonding with your baby through skin-to-skin contact, talk with your physician.

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How does skin-to-skin help encourage breastfeeding?

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Skin-to-skin contact can be very calming for both you and your baby. Oftentimes, skin-to-skin can help a baby get started breastfeeding, and it has been shown to promote breastfeeding.

Holding your newborn – wearing only a diaper – against your bare chest will help him or her feel comfortable. Your baby will be most comfortable upright with his or her stomach against your chest – above your breasts — while doing skin-to-skin.

In this position, your baby will be able to smell the breast milk and start to work his or her way toward your breast to begin nursing.

Talk with your physician for more information about skin-to-skin and ways you can use it to promote breastfeeding.

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Can fathers or partners participate in skin-to-skin?

Just as it is important for a father or partner to support a mother’s choice to breastfeed, it is important for the father or partner to bond with a new baby.

Mother’s can use skin-to-skin contact both to bond with their newborn and to encourage breastfeeding.

Skin-to-skin contact also can help fathers or partners bond with their baby.

Especially for babies who have to spend time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) before going home, skin-to-skin contact with mothers, fathers and partners included can be a way to gain a special closeness and comfort with the newborn.

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Thank you to Michelle Gnagey, IBCLC, lactation consultant at Atrium Medical Center, for answering these common questions about skin-to-skin contact.

Additional Resources

This website provides general medical information that should be used for informative and educational purposes only. Information found here should not be used as a substitute for the personal, professional medical advice of your physician. Do not begin any course of treatment without consulting a physician.

DISCLAIMER:Atrium Medical Center does not have any control over the content of third-party websites and neither endorses nor accepts any responsibility for the content, products, and services on or sold on these websites. The Off Site Icon symbol indicates a third-party website.