Hospitals, health officials and health organizations have been working hard to improve breastfeeding rates worldwide. Could the answer be as simple as skin-to-skin contact right after birth? A new study, presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, suggests…maybe.
Researchers viewed the electronic medical records of 150 single, term and late preterm healthy births. They looked at whether or not the mother and infant had skin-to-skin contact in the delivery room, as well as the mother’s age, intent to breastfeed, gestational age, method of delivery, admission temperature and glucose testing on admission of the newborn to the nursery. The number of formula feedings during the infant’s stay were also recorded.
Overall, 53 percent of all infants had skin-to-skin contact with their mothers in the delivery room. It was also found that 72 percent of the mothers planned to exclusively breastfeed, but only 28 percent of them did. Intent to breastfeed and skin-to-skin contact were significantly related to exclusive breastfeeding, the researchers found, even when gestational age, maternal age and method of delivery were factored for.
However, it should be noted that the researchers found that exclusive breastfeeding was most likely among mothers who intended to breastfeed exclusively prior to delivery. In fact, there seemed to be a “synergistic effect” between the intent to breastfeed and skin-to-skin contact.
“Breastfeeding is one of the easiest things we can do for babies to make sure they’re growing up healthy,” study author Darshna Bhatt, DO, MPH told Medical Xpress. “While skin-to-skin contact is associated positively with exclusive breastfeeding, the statistically significant factor is intent.”
Bhatt added that this study should be kept in mind when hospitals and doctors deliver babies to mothers that intend to exclusively breastfeed their children.
“We have to create a more interdisciplinary approach to increasing awareness and intention,” Dr. Bhatt said. “When moms declare their intention to breastfeed, there really shouldn’t be a reason why they don’t have skin-to-skin contact with her new infant in the delivery room.”
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