The Sacred Hour

Uninterrupted Skin-to-Skin Contact Immediately After Birth

Raylene Phillips MD, IBCLC, FAAP


NAINR. 2013;13(2):67-72. 

In This Article

Protocols That Promote Uninterruped Skin-to-Skin Contact Immediately After Birth

Many postpartum hospital care protocols are not designed to support uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby immediately after birth. Instead, they consist of a list of care activities and tasks that nurses often feel they must accomplish as soon as possible to get through their work assignments. Anything that is not necessary for the immediate well-being of the newborn and mother can, and should, be delayed until after the first breastfeeding. This includes vitamin K injection, eye prophylaxis antibiotic ointment, foot and hand printing, weighing, measurements and bathing.

Occasionally an infant may need to be weighed to determine if he qualifies for hypoglycemia protocols. Glucose testing can be done while the asymptomatic infant is skin to skin with mother, as this will support maximum glucose stability. If the results indicate that intravenous glucose is required, at least the mother and infant have received the benefits of early bonding with increased oxytocin levels, as well as respiratory and temperature stability before separation is necessary for further stabilization of glucose. Any symptomatic infant should, of course, be immediately evaluated and stabilized. While skin-to-skin care is usually not practical for the unstable baby or mother, it should be the default plan of care for all normal newborns and mothers, and postpartum care protocols should be created to support this natural process.