After birth, mothers and babies should be in direct contact for at least the first hour or two. This is because during pregnancy, babies are really close to their mother in terms of getting warmth, food, protection and oxygen. After labour, babies will unexpectedly find themselves without all of these essential needs. To resolve this, babies should be held naked against their mother’s skin, also known as skin-to-skin contact (or Kangaroo care). If due to birth complications and the mother is unable to provide such care, the father can step in.
When the baby is born, they are not aware of how to maintain their temperature. During pregnancy, a mother may sweat when too hot and move around when too cold to maintain the baby’s temperature. As they are not aware of that yet, using skin-to-skin contact, the mother’s body will stabilize the baby’s body temperature.
Skin-to-skin care also aids with Breastfeeding. Babies are more likely to discover their natural instinct to latch on to the mother’s breast and nurse sooner. This also helps the mother lactate as the hormone regulate and balance out.
Studies have shown that babies who have had skin-to-skin contact after birth are less likely to cry. Known as the separation distress call, babies will cry until reunited with their mothers. Having this skin-to-skin care, babies feel the security provided by their mother. This also helps with understanding the baby’s signals for when they’re hungry, full and uncomfortable.
There are plenty of other benefits for holding your baby close to you for the first time and these benefits will continue to grow during infancy.