The importance of skin to skin contact

The importance of skin to skin contact

Find out more about why skin to skin contact between you and your baby is the best place for your baby to start life. 

Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative | Meeting baby for the first time

This Unicef UK video covers both the theory and practice of skin to skin, but most importantly, what it can mean to mothers and babies meeting each other for the first time. 


The best place for your baby

The best place for your baby straight after birth is on your chest. This is a special time that can have lifelong effects. Your baby will be dried and laid directly on your bare chest after birth, covered in warm blankets and left for at least an hour or until after your first feed together.

Skin-to-skin contact can also take place any time a baby needs comforting or calming and to help boost milk supply.  Partners can also be part of ongoing skin-to-skin contact for your baby.

Place your naked baby on your bare chest with a cover over baby's back, not around baby's face.

Skin-to-skin contact is safest when you are alcohol, drug and smoke-free, awake and not exhausted.

Skin-to-skin contact:

  • supports a lifelong relationship with you and your baby
  • settles your baby's heart rate, breathing and temperature - reduces your baby's stress
  • helps your baby recover from the birth and encourages your baby to search for your breast
  • keeps your baby warm and comforted
  • helps colostrum let-down
  • protects your baby from infection and sets up healthy gut bacteria
  • reduces your risk of bleeding after the birth
  • develops your baby's brain

You might like to check more content on breastfeeding including videos and key messages translated into 9 languages.

See the main skin to skin page with video and translated key messages

See KidsHealth's breastfeeding section

Check KidsHealth's infant nutrition section

This page last reviewed 30 May 2022.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it