More Skin-to-Skin Contact After Birth Leads to More Exclusive Breastfeeding

More Skin-to-Skin Contact After Birth Leads to More Exclusive Breastfeeding

We all know that there’s nothing that feels quite so right as a mother holding her newborn skin-to-skin.  But science has discovered that this is more than just a “feel-good” experience.  This mother-baby body contact has profound effects on early breastfeeding. 

 A 19-hospital study in San Bernadino and Riverside counties in California examined the breastfeeding outcomes of nearly 22,000 singleton, full-term babies and their mothers during their hospital stay.  The researchers found that the longer mothers and babies were in skin-to-skin contact during the first three hours after birth, the more likely they were to be exclusively breastfeeding at hospital discharge.  They found the following dose-response relationship between skin-to-skin contact after birth and exclusive breastfeeding: 

Min. Spent in Skin-to-Skin Contact after Birth

Greater Likelihood of Exclusive Breastfeeding at Discharge Over Those With No Skin-to-Skin Contact in First 3 Hours After Birth (odds ratio)










This finding reinforces the importance of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation in its Policy Statement “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk”: “Healthy infants should be placed and remain in direct skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately after delivery until the first feeding is accomplished” (Gartner 2005, p. 498).



Bramson, L., Lee, J.W., Moore, E., Montgomery, S., Neish, C., Bahjri, K., and Melcher, C.  Effect of early skin-to-skin mother-infant contact during the first 3 hours following birth on exclusive breastfeeding during the maternity hospital stay.  Journal of Human Lactation 2010; 26(2):130-137.

Gartner, L. M., Morton, J., Lawrence, R. A., Naylor, A. J., O'Hare, D., Schanler, R. J. and  Eidelman, A.I. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics 2005; 115(2):496-506.

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