Skin-to-skin: Is it time to prioritise the needs of babies born by C-section?

Toni Harman
9 min readNov 17, 2022

Skin-to-skin DURING C-section is evidence-based, it’s free and relatively easy-to-do with a tweak of hospital procedures. And most importantly, it’s really beneficial for the mother/baby dyad. Opinion piece commentary by Toni Harman asking why aren’t ALL parents routinely supported to have skin-to-skin DURING a C-section? What would it take for all parents to be offered this as a fully supported option?

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Parenting: Is it time to priortise the needs of babies born by C-section by enabling skin-to-skin contact?
Skin-to-skin: Is it time to priortise the needs of babies born by C-section? Commentary by Toni Harman — November 2022.

My baby was born by C-section. I didn’t hold my baby until 30–45 mins after the surgery. Even then, my baby was presented to me, wrapped up in a towel like a burrito, whilst I was in the recovery room.

There was no support for skin-to-skin. No support to initiate breastfeeding.

Talking to other parents and other health professionals, this is a very familiar story.

And it’s triggered me to have a “bee in my bonnet”.

My last two blog-posts have been on the importance of immediate skin-to-skin for the mother/baby dyad. My last post on new WHO guidelines about kangaroo mother care (KMC), and the post before on new research on the benefits for mother and baby on skin-to-skin DURING the C-section.

If only expectant parents knew that skin-to-skin DURING the C-section was actually possible in the operating room within five minutes of the baby being born (provided mother/baby is healthy).

If only parents knew that it could be possible with a tweak of hospital procedures and the strong informed advocacy by parents.

In my view, it shouldn’t need parents to clearly and adamantly ask for skin-to-skin in the operating theatre; it should be offered as a fully supported option.

Toni Harman

I help parents and health professionals better understand the science of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and the microbiome.