Skin-to-skin contact can make breastfeeding easier by relaxing the mother and baby, enhancing their bond, and helping the baby to latch better, a study says while women who give birth by caesarean often undergo difficulty with breastfeeding.
Additional potential benefits of skin-to-skin contact for infants include less cold stress, longer periods of sleep, improved weight gain, better brain development, a reduction in "purposeless" activity and decreased crying, the study added.
"Nurses working in labour and birth settings should promote the practice of skin-to-skin contact between women and their newborn infants immediately following birth, given the significant health benefits associated with this experience," said one of the study authors Cheryl Zauderer from the New York Institute of Technology in the US.
"The moments right after birth represent the ideal time frame for initiating breastfeeding, which generates important health benefits for the baby," Zauderer added.
The authors advise that while there may be several challenges in implementing a protocol for skin-to-skin contact following a caesarean birth, a collaborative group of clinicians can identify and eliminate these barriers.
Additional barriers faced by women who have caesarean surgery include sterile draping from the surgery and mental fatigue from pain and sedation medications.
The positive benefits of skin-to-skin contact for newborns and mothers call for action to be taken by health care providers to minimise barriers and make skin-to-skin contact a priority, the authors said.
The study appeared in the journal Nursing for Women's Health. (IANS)