Breastfeeding Awareness Week: The benefits of having skin-to-skin time

Breastfeeding Awareness Week takes place between 25 – 30 June, and this year NHS Norfolk and Waveney, midwives and health visitors are ‘prescribing’ ‘skin-to-skin’ and the message that it is ‘Cool to Cuddle’.

Skin-to-skin means holding your baby close to your chest, bare skin to bare skin. It has many benefits and is being actively encouraged at delivery and for intensive care babies.

Skin-to-skin time can start soon after baby is born and for as long as mums and babies enjoy it. With the correct help, it is often beneficial to babies who are born early. It can help with breastfeeding, especially in the early hours and days to get breastfeeding started, but all mums and babies no matter their feeding method can benefit. Dads can get involved and have a turn too!

Benefits of skin-to-skin time include:

• Keeping baby warm.
• Calming baby’s heart rate.
• Regulating baby’s breathing.
• Reducing baby and mother’s stress levels.

It will also help to:
• Keep baby close.
• Respond to baby’s feeding cues.

Skin-to-skin after baby is born can help a first feed. We know that every amount of breastfeeding contributes to giving babies the best nutrition and immunisation possible for their immediate and future health.

Katie Phillips and Luisa Lyons, Infant Feeding Co-ordinators at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “The staff of the maternity unit at the NNUH support and promote skin to skin contact between mothers and babies at birth and throughout their time in hospital. We recognise the many benefits that something so simple can offer.

“Our aim is that parents have the best opportunity to bond with their babies and skin to skin contact gets parenthood off to a great start.

“Our commitment to skin to skin contact is demonstrated by the recent award to the trust of stage one Baby Friendly accreditation in April 2012”.

Carol Mutton, Head of Midwifery at James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: ” Midwives at the James Paget actively promote the many benefits of early and prolonged skin/skin contact between mother and baby and father and baby.

“The benefits we have observed include:

• Uninterrupted family time immediately after birth.
• Warmer, calmer babies.
• An increase in breast feeding initiation rates.
• Earlier babies responsiveness to their parents.

“We are committed as an organisation to the fine principles of the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative of which skin to skin contact is an essential element”.

Barbara James, Divisional Chief Nurse for the Women and Children Division at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn NHS Foundation Trust said: “We give every encouragement possible to new mothers to breastfeed. All the evidence is that, in terms of nourishment and bonding, it is beneficial to mum and her baby. It is perfectly natural and also very important for a new baby to have that very close contact.

“We take pride in being Baby Friendly here, in that breastfeeding is permitted anywhere within the hospital.

“All our staff are trained in breastfeeding support so that we can give every encouragement to new mothers and their partners.

“Research has demonstrated the benefit of prompt skin-to-skin contact for new babies and their mothers. Midwives and support staff work very hard to ensure that this takes place.”

All hospitals and community trusts in the Norfolk & Waveney area are working towards Baby Friendly standards and have been awarded Stage1 accreditation by UNICEF which shows that all the correct policies and procedures are in place.

To support and promote Breastfeeding Awareness Week, midwifery teams, Health Visitors and Children’s Centres will be displaying posters and holding events during the week.

Where possible, Norfolk Libraries will be displaying ‘skin-to-skin’ poster sand slides on plasma screens and will be promoting books about breastfeeding and early years.

Breastfeeding Awareness week will also feature on the Norfolk’s Living Well website at and its Facebook and twitter feeds.

For further breastfeeding advice:

Local midwives, community health visiting teams and children’s centres can give a range of support and advice to mothers, their partners and families.

A map of breastfeeding support groups is available from the NHS Norfolk and Waveney website at Alternatively, you can call the NHS Norfolk Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 0800 587 4132 to find a group near you.

The Pregnancy and Breastfeeding section on the NHS Norfolk and Waveney website provides a wide range of indformation including links to the new NHS Information Service for Parents and Start4Life

National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212 or visit

Friday 22nd of June 2012 01:00:34 PM