Being skin to skin with the mother is the best way for a stable baby to adjust to life outside the womb. It is endorsed by multiple organizations responsible for the care and well-being of infants. It is, not only safer for both babies and mothers, but provides multiple short- and long-term beneficial effects. Early postpartum skin-to-skin contact increases physiologic stability, promotes optimal psycho-emotional well-being, and supports structural and functional infant brain development.
However, being skin to skin with the mother immediately after birth is much more than simply a nice way to be welcomed into the world. The first hour after birth is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion for both the baby and the parents. It is a "sacred hour," during which a family is formed. This unique experience, once lost, can never be relived. Although not the only time when bonding occurs, something special happens during the first hour after birth. We must not cavalierly deprive parents and babies of this experience unless there is a very good reason. Instead, we must do everything in our power to honor, cherish and protect this special time for new families.
The author would like to acknowledge the work of Dr. Nils Bergman, MD, MPH, PhD, a global advocate for mothers and babies. Thank you for all you have taught me and countless others about the critical importance of keeping both term and preterm newborns together in as much skin-to-skin contact with their mothers as possible.
NAINR. 2013;13(2):67-72. © 2013 Elsevier Science, Inc.