Planning to Breastfeed? Research Says Skin-to-Skin Contact Is Key

Mom and baby skin-to-skin contact Shutterstock

For moms hoping to breastfeed, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests starting with skin-to-skin contact first. At an AAP National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, research was presented to highlight the fact that when a new mom intends to breastfeed and practices skin-to-skin in the delivery room, there was a greater likelihood that she would exclusively breastfeed baby.

The research presented, entitled, “Early Skin-to-Skin Contact in the Delivery Room Leads to an Increase in Exclusive Breastfeeding during the Newborn Hospital Stay,” followed a review of 150 electronic medical records of single, late preterm and term-healthy births at a New York hospital. Researchers looked for information on whether or not mom and her newborn had skin-to-skin contact after delivery, a mother’s maternal age, her intent to breastfeed, baby’s gestational age, the method of delivery as well as temperature of glucose levels. Additionally, researchers also kept track of the number of formula feedings, baby’s birth weight and discharge weight and also the duration of their hospital stay.

Overall, they found that 53 percent of the infants had skin-to-skin contact in the delivery room and 72 percent of moms planned to exclusively breastfeed (however, only 28 actually did). Researchers noted that that relationship between intent to breastfeed and skin-to-skin contact was directly related to exclusive breastfeeding.

From the study, authors note, it’s more about intention than anything. Study author Darshna Bhatt said, “Breastfeeding is one of the easiest things we can do for babies to make sure they’re growing up healthy.  While skin-to-skin contact is associated positively with exclusive breastfeeding, the statistically significant factor is intention.”

“We have to create a more interdisciplinary approach to increasing awareness and intention,” she added, saying “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.”

Was skin-to-skin contact an option for you after delivery?

Plus, more from The Bump:

A Smart Start to Breastfeeding

12 Ways to Make Breastfeeding Easier

11 Things You Didn’t Know About Breastfeeding