Thanks to a post by the Breastfeeding Coalition of Boone, Clinton, and Montgomery County blog, I learned of multi-disciplinary research conducted in Nova Scotia, Canada on the outcomes of extended skin-to-skin contact. The researchers have produced two DVDs, viewable for free, explaining their findings:
- Enhancing Baby’s First Relationship: A Parents’ Guide for Skin-to-Skin Contact with Their Infants gives a general overview of the findings (length 20 minutes). If you have difficulty opening the video from the link above try this link.
- Enhancing Baby’s First Relationship: Results from a Study on Mother-Infant Skin-to-Skin Contact presents the findings in more detail (length 28 minutes). If you have difficulty opening the video from the link above try this link.
|still shot from "Enhancing Baby's First Relationship"|
So what did the study examine, and what were the findings?
The study examined the effects of skin-to-skin contact over the first 3 months of life. Researchers from psychology, nursing, medicine, nutrition, and anthropology helped with the study. Over 100 mothers and their full-term babies participated. One group was given no special instructions; the other was instructed to do skin-to-skin with their babies during the first month after birth. Both groups of mothers kept records of how much skin-to-skin contact they had with their babies.
Research assistants visited each mother-baby pair at 1 week, 1 month, 2 months, and 3 months after the birth. They took records of how much skin-to-skin contact the baby had on a daily basis, noted whether the mother was breastfeeding or formula feeding, had the mother complete a postpartum depression scale, observed the mother feeding her baby, and recorded a session while the mother was playing with her baby.
During the first week, the skin-to-skin group provided on average 5 hours of skin to skin [not sure if it was 5 hours per day or per week]. After the first week, the average dropped to 3 hours through the first month of life. The control group had little or no skin-to-skin contact with their babies.
The researchers' key findings were that skin-to-skin contact through the first month of life
- Helped mothers maintain their choice to breastfeed
- Increased mother's sensitivity to her baby
- Reduced postpartum depression
- Increased baby's alertness
- Enhanced baby's responsiveness to their mother
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Ann Bigelow
St. Francis Xavier University
P.O. Box 5000