New babies are meant to be held. And at Rapides Women’s and Childrens’ Hospital, the Labor and Delivery staff now get babies back into their mothers’ arms immediately after delivery.

“The concept is called ‘Skin to Skin,’” said Racheal Fischer, RN, Administrative Director at Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital. “It’s something that’s being done more often in hospitals nationwide because immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby after delivery helps promote bonding, breastfeeding and provides other benefits for baby.”

Research has shown that when babies are held next to their mother’s skin immediately after delivery, the baby is better able adjust to life on the outside. For instance, skin-to-skin helps keep the baby warm, stabilizes the baby’s heart rate, respiratory rate and blood sugar and reduces crying.
“Skin to skin works best when there are no blankets or gowns between the mom and baby,” Fischer said. “This is time for mom and baby. We immediately place the baby against mom’s chest, under her hospital gown and we assess the baby and dry the baby right there.”

Babies who receive skin to skin contact also get a headstart on breastfeeding.

“Babies are more alert right after being born, so it’s almost like it’s being imprinted on them if they are allowed that skin to skin contact with mom immediately after,” said Tracy Strange, RN, IBCLC, RLC, Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital Breastfeeding Center. “Plus, babies use their sense of smell to find their way to mom for breastfeeding – and immediately after delivery, mom has a stronger scent that the baby can recognize.”

Because of that, moms who attempt breastfeeding immediately after delivery during that skin to skin contact, have greater breastfeeding success.

New moms also like the benefit of being the first to hold their baby. Not to mention breastfeeding mothers experience less bleeding after birth, lose weight faster and are at lower risk for breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers.

“Our moms are very receptive to the idea,” said Fischer. “They’ve been waiting to hold this baby for nearly ten months, and they get to hold the baby as long as they want.”

For more information about the Skin to Skin Initiative, visit and look for our Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital page.