Skin-to-skin contact after cesarean delivery: an experimental study

Nurs Res. Mar-Apr 2010;59(2):78-84. doi: 10.1097/NNR.0b013e3181d1a8bc.


Background: The effectiveness of skin-to-skin contact (SSC) after vaginal delivery has been shown. After cesarean births, SSC is not done for practical and medical safety reasons because it is believed that infants may suffer mild hypothermia.

Objective: The aim of this study was to compare mothers' and newborns' temperatures after cesarean delivery when SSC was practiced (naked baby except for a small diaper, covered with a blanket, prone on the mother's chest) with those when routine care was practiced (dressed, in the bassinet or in the mother's bed) in the 2 hours beginning when the mother returned from the operating room.

Methods: An experimental, noninferiority adaptive trial was designed with four levels of analysis: 34 pairs of mothers and newborns, after elective cesarean delivery, were randomized to SSC (n = 17) or routine care (n = 17). Temporal artery temperature was taken with an infrared ray thermometer at half-hour intervals.

Results: Compared with newborns who received routine care, SSC cesarean-delivered newborns were not at risk for hypothermia. The mean temperatures of both groups were almost identical: after 30 min, 36.1 degrees C for both groups (+/-0.4 degrees C for SSCs and +/-0.5 degrees C for the controls), and after 120 min, 36.2 degrees C +/- 0.3 degrees C for SSCs versus 36.4 degrees C +/- 0.7 degrees C for the controls (no significant differences). Time from delivery to the mothers' return to their room was 51 +/- 10 min. The SSC newborns attached to the breast earlier (nine SSC newborns and four controls after 30 min) were breast-fed (exclusively or prevalently) at discharge (13 SSCs and 11 controls) and at 3 months (11 SSCs and 8 controls), and the SSC mothers expressed high levels of satisfaction with the intervention.

Discussion: Cesarean-delivered newborns who experienced SSC within 1 hour of delivery are not at risk for hypothermia.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Cesarean Section / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / prevention & control*
  • Infant Care / methods
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Postnatal Care / methods*
  • Postpartum Period / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Skin Temperature / physiology*
  • Young Adult