A study that appeared in the journal, Nursing for Women’s Health, has found that skin-to-skin contact between a mother and baby not only improves bonding, but also makes breastfeeding easier because they are relaxed, which helps the baby to latch better. The additional benefits of skin-to-skin contact for infants include less cold stress, longer periods of sleep, improved weight gain, better brain development, decreased crying and reduction in purposeless activities.
Cheryl Zauderer from the New York Institute of Technology, one of the study authors, believes that nurses working labor and birth settings should promote the practice of mothers holding their newborn infant immediately following birth, given the significant health benefits of this experience. The moments right after birth is the ideal time to initiate breastfeeding, as it generates important health benefits for the baby.
The study also mentioned that women who give birth by cesarean often face difficulty with breastfeeding. Additional barriers faced by these women include sterile draping from the surgery and mental fatigue from pain and sedation medications. The authors advise that while there may be several challenges in implementing a protocol for skin-to-skin contact following a cesarean birth, a group of clinicians can eliminate these barriers.
The positive benefits of skin-to-skin contact for newborns and mothers call for action to be taken by healthcare providers to minimize barriers and make it a priority, the authors said.