february 2023

Rates of skin-to-skin contact in England

10 min read My Expert Midwife Recommended Products
A mother holds her baby doing skin-to-skin contact

Skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth is important for many reasons, including developing a baby’s skin flora and microbiome. Developing this microbiome, in conjunction with the environment the baby will be raised in, will help protect a baby against the infections and diseases they are most likely to encounter throughout their life.

Recently published NHS data shows that more than one in four babies, (25.8 percent) could be missing out on the best start in life for their skin, as they don’t have skin-to-skin contact with a parent within an hour of birth.

This equates to 115,910 babies born in 2021-22. Across England, 74.2% of new babies born in England had skin-to-skin contact with their parents within an hour of birth.

We’ve looked at this data regionally, to find the number of babies who had skin to skin contact within an hour of birth, according to the latest NHS report.

percentage of babies across England who had skin to skin contact within an hour of birth

The South West of England has the highest recorded number of babies who had skin to skin, 84.09%, versus London and East of England where figures were slightly lower, 69.16% and 62.05% respectively.

To help new parents give their baby’s skin the best start in life possible, and support their skin health throughout their lifetime, midwives at My Expert Midwife have created seven essential steps to expertly care for your baby’s skin:

  1. Prepare to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby at birth by writing this in your birth plan
  2. Have skin-to-skin straight after the birth to encourage their skin flora and microbiome to develop (your partner can do this too)
  3. The first few days – use a bowl of water to clean your baby’s face and bottom (top and tail)
  4. The first few weeks – bath your baby a maximum of 2-3 times a week unless visibly dirty
  5. Always use the mildest products and moisturise after bathing to keep skin healthy and hydrated
  6. Protect your baby’s skin by having skin-to-skin contact daily as often as possible
  7. After three months you can start to use carefully selected essential oil blends to settle and soothe your baby

To download a free copy of the seven essential steps to expertly care for your baby’s skin, visit our free guides and checklists page.