Objective: to explore midwives' experiences and perceptions of skin-to-skin contact between mothers and their healthy full-term infants immediately and during the first day after caesarean section.
Design: qualitative interviews with semi-structured questions.
Setting and participants: eight midwives at three different hospitals in Stockholm participated in the study. All participants provided care for mothers and their newborn infants after caesarean birth.
Analysis: transcribed material was analysed and interpreted using qualitative content analysis. The analysis yielded the theme 'fighting an uphill battle'.
Findings: skin-to-skin contact was considered to be important, and something that midwives strove to implement as a natural element of postnatal care. However, in daily practice, midwives experienced many obstacles to such care, such as lack of knowledge among parents and other professionals about the benefits of skin-to-skin contact, the mother's condition after the caesarean section, and other organisational difficulties (e.g. collaboration with other professionals, lack of time). Introducing more skin-to-skin care was a challenge for the midwives, who sometimes felt both dismissed and disappointed when they tried to communicate the benefits of this type of care.
Conclusion: skin-to-skin contact is not prioritised because many health care practitioners are unaware of its positive effects, and their care reflects this lack of knowledge. There is a need for education among all health care practitioners involved in caesarean procedures. Another difficulty is that many parents are unaware of the benefits of skin-to-skin contact. Maternity outpatient clinics need to inform parents about the benefits of such care, so mothers will understand the importance of skin-to-skin contact.
Keywords: Caesarean section; Content analysis; Midwives׳ experiences; Obstacles; Post partum care; Skin-to-skin.
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