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Skin-to-Skin and Newborn Stages

What is skin-to-skin?

  • Hold your baby unclothed or in a diaper on your bare skin. Place a blanket over the both of you, with the baby's head uncovered.

Why should my family and I do skin-to-skin?

  • Babies stay warmer and more calm
  • Helps baby move easily from stage to stage (see below for newborn stages)
  • Helps baby hear your heartbeat
  • Helps mom's milk supply
  • Helps babies latch better

When should my family and I do skin-to-skin?

  • Early and often!
  • Immediately after birth and during the next 1 to 2 hours after delivery. Start as soon as possible!
  • At home any time you, or another caregiver, want to be close to your baby. It can be especially useful when your baby is fussy or when you are having trouble breastfeeding.

Skin-to-skin Tips:

  • Wear shirts that open in the front or wear a robe.
  • If you are on medications or are having trouble staying awake, make sure to have someone around that can help you safely hold your baby.
  • Relax and enjoy your baby!

While you and your family are doing skin-to-skin immediately after your delivery, look for the following stages most newborns go through. Your baby may go through some or all of these stages. Every baby is different! Skin-to-skin is the best way to encourage normal transitioning from the womb to the world.

Immediately after birth:

  • Birth Cry: This is the first cry that often happens immediately after delivery. This allows the baby to expand her lungs.
  • Relaxation: The baby relaxes and shows no mouth movements. Hands are relaxed. At this point, the baby is usually covered with a warm blanket, skin-to-skin on mom's chest.

3 minutes after birth:

  • Awakening: The baby shows movement of the head and shoulders, in addition to some mouth movements. The baby also may open her eyes.

8 minutes after birth:

  • Activity: The baby starts showing rooting reflexes. More mouth and sucking movements develop. Often, eyes are open, baby looks at breast, mouth waters, rubs her cheek against mom's breast, moves her hand to mouth, sticks out tongue, looks at mom, lifts her chest off of mom's chest.
  • Rest: The baby may take rest breaks between periods of movement.

35 minutes after birth:

  • Crawling: The baby uses her body to move towards the nipple and breast. This may look like crawling, lunging, or sliding.

45 minutes after birth:

  • Familiarization: The baby starts to get to know mom. This may involve licking the nipple, looking at mom, making small noises to get mom's attention, stick out her tongue, massaging mom's breast. 
  • Suckling: The baby latches on and starts suckling. This usually starts about an hour after delivery, but can take longer when moms have had pain medication.
  • Sleep: The baby falls asleep — sometimes mom does, too!