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Getting Started - Skin-to-Skin

As soon as possible, hold your baby “skin-to-skin” after a vaginal or cesarean birth.

Skin-to-skin means putting your naked baby on your bare chest, with a cover over both of you to keep you warm and cozy.  

Babies who are held skin-to-skin:

  • Are more likely to latch onto the breast and breastfeed well
  • Cry less often
  • Stay warmer
  • Have fewer heart rate and breathing problems
  • Have better levels of oxygen in the blood
  • Have less pain during needle pokes
  • Go home earlier from the hospital

Hold your baby skin-to-skin on the first day and offer your breast frequently.  This will help your baby to wake up. Hand express milk onto your baby's lips. This will help your baby latch.

How Do I Help My Baby Latch?

When your baby is learning to breastfeed, 'baby-led latching' is very helpful.  This is a natural and simple way for your baby to find your breast, after birth or any time you are breastfeeding.  It is also called 'laid-back breastfeeding'.

Baby-Led Latching
  • Sit comfortably with support, leaning back.
  • Hold your baby skin-to-skin on your upper chest, between your breasts, so that his tummy rests on your chest.
  • Your baby was born with a 'rooting' reflex that helps him find your nipple.
  • You will notice him turning his head or moving it up and down -- looking for your breast. This may look like bobbing or pecking.
  • Support your baby's back and bottom with your arm and hand while he moves towards your breast. When his shoulders and hips are supported, he can tilt his head back a little. This will help him latch.
  • Your baby will find your nipple. He may touch it with his hands first.
  • After a few tries, your baby will push his chin into your breast, reach up with an open mouth, and latch to your breast.
  • Once your baby is latched, you can change positions to make sure both of you are comfortable.
Source: 'Breastfeeding Matters', used with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre.


What If I Would Like Help?

Start to breastfeed within the first hour of your baby's birth.

The first time you breastfeed you may want a nurse or your midwife to help you.  It may take several tries to get your baby latched on correctly and comfortably.  Making sure you have a good latch is the best way to avoid problems such as sore nipples.

Since breastfeeding is a new skill, you may need help until you are feeding comfortably.  A member of your health care team is always available to help and support you.