The importance of hugging

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Dr. Christine Chambers and Dr.Marsha Campbell-Yeo are experts when it comes to skin-to-skin contact. Here’s what they had to say.

What was your role with the Huggies Hug Plan?

Dr. Chambers: We were brought on by Huggies to review the science behind skin-to-skin touch for babies, immediately after birth and also in the periods following birth. Our role was to review the science and sum up the evidence for skin-to-skin contact and how it can best be implemented by mothers. Our job was to help Huggies by providing background and the science to base their hug plan on.

So what were the findings?

Dr. Campbell-Yeo: I think that with many things in life, the simplest things are the most beneficial and certainly this is the case for skin-to-skin contact, which is the upright holding of a diaper-clad baby on the bare chest of his or her mom, to allow for full ventral belly-to-chest contact.

There are many benefits of skin-to-skin contact immediately following birth and also ongoing after, in the post-partum period.

With the respect to physiological benefits, we know that with babies who are held skin-to-skin with their moms, their temperatures stabilize more quickly, better than if they’re wrapped in blanket or even if they’re put under a warmer. We also know that their breathing and heart rate stabilize much faster after delivery. We know that breastfeeding is significantly more successful when moms and babies are able to be together using skin-to-skin contact immediately, or as soon as possible, after birth.

What about skin-to-skin with other people besides Mom?

Dr. Campbell-Yeo: The majority of the science has been conducted with Mom and Baby. We know there are some times that moms are not able to hold their babies immediately after birth, and research has shown that while contact with the mom is optimal, alternate care providers can also provide benefits, especially with respect to things like temperature regulation.

How about during sleep?

Dr. Campbell-Yeo: Babies sleep better when they are held skin-to-skin than when they are bundled or left in a cot.

Does hugging help in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NiCU)?

Dr. Chambers: We often think about the NICU as being very high-tech and technology driven and equipment driven, but science shows that starting with some of these more simple, cost effective, strategies like skin-to-skin can really help both Mom and Baby. It isn’t just “a nice thing to do”, it’s very beneficial to the child and the whole family.


What’s your hug plan?

You’ve heard of a birth plan, right? It’s a list of how you envision your labour and birth to unfold. Well, now’s the time to make a Hug Plan.

Be specific!

Sit down and make your decisions. For example, when do you want to hug (before or after the cord is cut)? And how long do you want to provide skin-to-skin contact (one hour or more)?

Fill out your Hug Plan, share it with your doctor or midwife, and pop a copy in your hospital bag.

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