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Your question:

Why is skin-to-skin contact after birth important?

Expert’s answer:

Skin-to-skin contact is when your baby lies on your chest with their skin touching yours. All mums are encouraged to spend the first hour after birth together with their baby in skin-to-skin.   You can cover baby loosely with a blanket to help keep them warm. In this position, your baby is kept warm and because they are close to your heart, they can hear all the sounds that are familiar to them from being in your womb.  This helps to regulate your baby’s heartbeat, breathing and temperature after the hard work of birth. It’s like their first cuddle.

When holding their baby in this way mums automatically do all the things that make feeding easier. Mums instinctively bring their baby close to their breast and often stroke the baby's hands and feet which can help with their feeding reflexes. Most babies are very alert and anxious to suck soon after they are born. Time spent in skin-to-skin gives baby time to find your breast and start to suckle. Sometimes babies will move towards your breast and latch on to feed almost entirely by themselves.

If baby is healthy and well, and has to be separated from mum for more than the first hours after birth, Dad or your birth partner could start skin-to-skin and you continue once you and baby are back together.

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