Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD003519. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003519.pub4, , , .
Mother-infant separation post birth is common. In standard hospital care, newborn infants are held wrapped or dressed in their mother’s arms, placed in open cribs or under radiant warmers. Skin-to-skin contact (SSC) begins ideally at birth and should last continually until the end of the first breastfeeding. SSC involves placing the dried, naked baby prone on the mother’s bare chest, often covered with a warm blanket. According to mammalian neuroscience, the intimate contact inherent in this place (habitat) evokes neuro-behaviors ensuring fulfillment of basic biological needs. This time frame immediately post birth may represent a ‘sensitive period’ for programming future physiology and behavior.
Evidence supports the use of SSC to promote breastfeeding. Studies with larger sample sizes are necessary to confirm physiological benefit for infants during transition to extra-uterine life and to establish possible dose-response effects and optimal initiation time. Methodological quality of trials remains problematic, and small trials reporting different outcomes with different scales and limited data limit our confidence in the benefits of SSC for infants. Our review included only healthy infants, which limits the range of physiological parameters observed and makes their interpretation difficult.
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