Skin to skin with your baby

Skin to skin with your baby

Why is skin to skin so important?


It’s important to know that skin to skin is not just limited to after birth of your baby and that evidence shows us that regular skin to skin contact with your baby in the days and weeks following the birth increases the nurturing instincts. There is now research to suggest that the more positive contact we have with our children the more it stimulates brain development and promotes positive relationship building.

Holding your baby against your skin after birth and as often as you can, develops strong instinctive feelings and behaviours that help you start to learn about each other.

Special Circumstances

If for any reason you were not able to have skin to skin after birth, then perhaps your partner would be able to instead.

If your birth partner is your partner, you may share a home. If you share a home it is likely that you will have some similar good bacteria on your skin, this way your baby can still begin to get to know their environment.

If any special circumstances happened, and for baby’s benefit, they had to go to the neonatal care unit, then you could discuss with the nurses when skin to skin would be possible. If you are unable to have skin to skin with your baby as soon as your baby is born, you should be encouraged to start skin to skin as soon as you are able to, this can be whenever or wherever you can.

Drugs in labour that can affect feeding

An opioid is a drug that hospitals can offer you in labour, you may hear it called pethidine or diamorphine, there are other names too. You should ask your midwife which drugs you may choose in labour.

These opioid drugs are used in birth to relax you. They are not painkillers they are sedatives, they act on the part of your brain that changes your awareness of what is happening. They act on your central nervous system.

When you receive the drug it will be given via an injection into your muscle, often the leg or bottom.

From here, it will enter your bloodstream fairly quickly, when it does this you can feel it as you may begin to feel relaxed or sleepy. This drug has the same effect on your baby, as the drug travels down the cord and into your baby. It is important that you are aware of this as, even though it is safe to use, the evidence does tell us that babies who have pethidine or similar drugs, in their system, can experience difficulty in feeding in the hours after birth. This is because the drug has sedated them, and because of this sedation, the feeding instincts are also reduced.

Therefore, if your baby is sleepy after birth and you have had pethidine or a similar drug, its important to try to feed your baby often. Your midwife or breastfeeding support worker can help you understand how much and how often.