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How to get off to a good start

How to get off to a good start

Cuddling skin-to-skin with your baby

The first hour with your baby is a special time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the first hour of a baby’s life is spent with uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact. Skin-to-skin can be done after a vaginal or Cesarean birth.

Cuddling skin-to-skin has many benefits:

  • encourages breastfeeding
  • helps regulate your baby's temperature and blood glucose
  • helps create an emotional bond
  • keeps baby warm
  • reduces crying

Routine medical care can be done while your baby cuddles with you. Some care can wait and be done at a later time.

Your support person can hold and bond with your baby skin-to-skin too. It is a wonderful way to be a special part of your new baby's life.

You are encouraged to hold your baby skin-to-skin as often as you can in the first hours and weeks to come. 

baby being heldSkin-to-skin contact is when your baby is placed naked against your or another caregiver's bare skin. (Your baby may have a hat and diaper.)

Watch your baby's feeding cues

Your baby will give you cues when they are hungry: 

  • roots or turns head when cheek is stroked
  • opens mouth and searches
  • smacks lips
  • makes sucking movements
  • puts hand in mouth
  • moves body in a way that looks like squirming
  • cries (the last cue)

Having your baby stay in your room will make it easier to watch for feeding cues.

Source: Allina Health Patient Education, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, eighth edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/06/2021