• What is skin-to-skin?

    The Magical Hour is a period of time (up to 60 minutes) when you and your baby will be skin-to-skin immediately after your baby is born.

    As long as your baby is medically stable, your doctor or a nurse will dry the baby and place him or her, naked, on your bare stomach. Both of you will be covered with a blanket. The baby may wear a diaper and/or a hat.

    Your care team will perform assessments and routine procedures for your baby while you are skin-to-skin. Your baby’s weight and measurements will be recorded after The Magical Hour. You may continue skin-to-skin care throughout your hospitalization.

    Skin-to-skin is ideal for mothers and babies; however, another family member or caregiver may do skin-to-skin care when the mother is unavailable.

    What are the benefits of skin-to-skin?

    The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses recommend skin-to-skin care immediately after birth for the benefit of babies and mothers.

    Skin-to-skin helps your baby:

    • Transition to life outside of the womb.
    • Regulate her temperature. If she is cold, your body will warm her; if she is too warm, your body will cool her.
    • Have a good first feeding. If you are breastfeeding, your baby may begin nursing on his own while you are skin-to-skin.
    • Lower her risk for high blood glucose levels.
    • Return to a normal heart rate after the birth experience.
    • Cry less and show fewer signs of stress.
    • Bond with his mother.
    Research shows that mothers who experience skin-to-skin have:
    • Less anxiety.
    • More self-confidence in their ability to parent.
    • More uterine contractions, which help the uterus return to its normal size.
    • Increased bonding due to their ability to smell and feel their newborn.
     
    Skin-to-skin and breastfeeding

    Research shows that skin-to-skin can help mothers and babies establish successful breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin allows the baby to move through nine instinctive stages:

    Stage 1: Birth Cry – Baby cries to expand her lungs.
    Stage 2: Relaxation – Usually while mother births the placenta and recovers.
    Stage 3: Awakening – Baby starts to move his head and shoulders, and may open his eyes.
    Stage 4: Activity – Newborn begins to display rooting reflex (searching for the breast).
    Stage 5: Rest – May happen at any point.
    Stage 6: Crawling – Newborn begins to wiggle toward the breast and nipple.
    Stage 7: Familiarization – Newborn licks the nipple and touches the breast, stimulating oxytocin, which triggers uterine contractions and let-down of your milk.
    Stage 8: Suckling – Newborn self-attaches to the breast and suckles. Reflexes are strongest in the first hours of life.
    Stage 9: Sleep – Newborn and mother fall asleep to recover energy expended in birth.

    Skin-to-skin supports your baby’s natural progression through these nine instinctive stages. Without skin-to-skin contact in the first hour of life, mothers and babies are more likely to need help with latching on and transferring milk.