Cochrane Summaries

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Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants

Moore ER, Anderson GC, Bergman N, Dowswell T
Published Online: 
16 May 2012

Skin-to-skin contact between a mother and her baby at birth reduces crying, and helps the mother to breastfeed successfully.

In many cultures, babies are generally cradled naked on their mother's bare chest at birth. Historically, this was necessary for the baby's survival. In recent times, in some societies such as in industrialized countries more babies are born in hospital, and as part of usual hospital care babies are often separated and swaddled or dressed before being given to their mothers. It has been suggested that  hospital routines may significantly disrupt early mother and baby interactions and have harmful effects. This review was done to see if there was any impact of early skin-to-skin contact between the mother and her newborn baby on infant health, behavior, and breastfeeding.

The review included 34 randomized studies involving 2177 mothers and their babies. It showed that babies exposed to skin-to-skin contact interacted more with their mothers and cried less than babies receiving usual hospital care. Mothers were more likely to breastfeed in the first one to four months, and tended to breastfeed longer, if they had early skin-to-skin contact with their babies. Babies were possibly more likely to have a good early relationship with their mothers but this was difficult to measure. The overall methodological quality of trials was mixed. There was variation in how the intervention was implemented, including the time of skin-to-skin contact started after the birth and how long it lasted, the outcomes looked at and how they were measured. No clear negative outcomes were reported in association with skin-to-skin contact.