Skin to Skin After a Cesarean Section

Skin to Skin After a Cesarean Section

June 7, 2013 9:45 am 34,663 comments

dreamstime_xxl_18177537Even with a Cesarean birth, having immediate skin to skin contact is possible and an amazing opportunity to bond with your little one. Having your partner or other caregiver lay baby across your chest is just one way to increase skin to skin contact. Babytime! has expert advice on how to enhance this experience.

In this article…

  • Post-birth in the U.S.
  • Skin to Skin is a Win-Win
  • Tips on Skin to Skin After a C-Section
  • Skin Care for You After a Cesarean

In the United States Cesarean sections are performed on about a third of women giving birth, more than in any other country. The routine practice after surgery is to separate the mother and baby which means limited to no skin to skin contact. Even after a C-section, there are many benefits to having mom hold her baby as early as possible.

Post-Birth in the U.S.

In the moments following delivery, especially with a C-section birth, skin to skin contact is not all that common in most hospitals. After most typical Cesareans, there is only a short introduction between newborn and mom before they are separated for up to two hours. Baby is taken from the mom to be weighed, examined, measured and swaddled while the mother is taken to a recovery room. The baby is then taken to a warmer in a nursery while the mom is recovering from the effects of the anesthesia.

Skin to Skin is a Win-Win

The World Health Organization recommends ALL newborns have skin to skin care, regardless of the baby’s weight, gestational age, or birth setting.  In a study comparing those recovering from a Cesarean who had skin to skin contact in the first hour after birth vs. those who did not have very early contact, average baby temperatures during the first hour after birth were significantly higher in the skin-to-skin group.

In another study, babies in the skin to skin group had this contact with their fathers, while babies in the control group stayed in a bassinet. The result was that babies who did skin-to-skin with their dads after a C-section cried less and were calm and drowsy faster than babies who were left in the bassinet.

Multiple studies have also shown that early skin to skin contact has a strong correlation with successful breastfeeding as well as reduced rates of colic in babies and less postpartum depression in moms.

How To Do Skin to Skin After A Cesarean

Although there are some challenges to skin to skin care after a C-section, it’s not impossible. Since mom may not be able to hold the baby right away due to the effects of anesthesia, have a nurse or the baby’s father place the baby on mom’s chest for a few minutes as soon as possible. Cheek to cheek contact is also a great alternative if mom’s chest is covered by a surgical gown. If it’s too difficult or uncomfortable for the mother, the next best thing is for baby to have skin to skin time with dad or an alternative caregiver.

If you know in advance that you are having a C-section, you can talk to your OB about making adjustments to accommodate for immediate skin to skin time such as wearing a gown that can easily open in front for baby to be placed on your chest, having the IV and blood pressure cuff placed on your non-dominant arm and delayed bathing of baby. Ask about having as many of the routine assessments and procedures done as possible while your baby is still laying on your chest.

Skin Care for You After A Cesarean

Although your surgery gave you the gift of a beautiful baby, your body still has some healing to do. Most women typically have a large incision that takes several weeks to heal and even longer for the scar to fade. Most women find their incision area to be itchy and uncomfortable even a few weeks after their C-sections. Massaging the area gently with an all natural oil high in linoleic acid can increase healing time, reduce swelling and reduce infection. The Babytime! Skin to Skin Massage Oil is the perfect way to improve the look and feel of your skin and your baby’s too.

Babytime! [Skin to Skin Massage Oil] contains a specially designed complex of 3 organic vegetable oils – Coconut, Sunflower, and Cranberry – to specifically provide a balanced complex of oleic and linoleic acids that is nutrient rich with Essential Fatty Acids. This unique blend offers maximum benefits from each of the oils while maintaining the perfect balance for proper skin absorption and glide. These nourishing, organic ingredients work to increase skin moisture, balance skin flora, support the skin’s barrier properties and help reduce inflammation and irritation – enhancing the benefits of Skin to Skin contact for both baby and mom.


World Health Organization 2003 Kangaroo Mother Care: A Practical Guide

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 May 16; Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants.

Moore ER, Anderson GC, Bergman N, Dowswell T. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2009 Jul-Aug;38(4):430-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2009.01039.x.

A pilot study of a nursing intervention protocol to minimize maternal-infant separation after Cesarean birth.

Nolan A, Lawrence C.

Nurs Res. 2010 Mar-Apr;59(2):78-84. doi: 10.1097/NNR.0b013e3181d1a8bc.

Skin-to-skin contact after cesarean delivery: an experimental study.

Gouchon S, Gregori D, Picotto A, Patrucco G, Nangeroni M, Di Giulio P.

Early Skin-to-Skin After Cesarean to Improve Breastfeeding

MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, September/October 2011


  • Congratulations on an excellent article. It is crucial that such messages are promoted on websites. Skin to skin is so important and rarely discussed with women facing caesarean birth – despite the known benefits to both mum and baby.

    In ‘Caesarean Birth: A positive approach to preparation and recovery’ I talk about lots of other things women can incorporate into their caesarean birth to improve the experience in addition to the all important skin to skin contact.

  • An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

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