Objective: to examine the effect of skin-to-skin contact and breast feeding within 30 minutes of birth, on the rate of primary postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) in a sample of women who were at mixed-risk of PPH.
Design: retrospective cohort study.
Setting: two obstetric units plus a freestanding birth centre in New South Wales (NSW) Australia.
Participants: after excluding women (n=3671) who did not have opportunity for skin to skin and breast feeding, I analysed birth records (n=7548) for the calendar years 2009 and 2010. Records were accessed via the electronic data base ObstetriX.
Intervention: skin to skin contact and breast feeding within 30 minutes of birth.
Measures: outcome measure was PPH i.e. blood loss of 500ml or more estimated at birth. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics and logistic regression (unadjusted and adjusted).
Findings: after adjustment for covariates, women who did not have skin to skin and breast feeding were almost twice as likely to have a PPH compared to women who had both skin to skin contact and breast feeding (aOR 0.55, 95% CI 0.41-0.72, p<0.001). This apparently protective effect of skin to skin and breast feeding on PPH held true in sub-analyses for both women at 'lower' (OR 0.22, 95% CI 0.17-0.30, p<0.001) and 'higher' risk (OR 0.37 95% CI 0.24-0.57), p<0.001. KEY CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATION FOR PRACTICE: this study suggests that skin to skin contact and breastfeeding immediately after birth may be effective in reducing PPH rates for women at any level of risk of PPH. The greatest effect was for women at lower risk of PPH. The explanation is that pronurturance promotes endogenous oxytocin release. Childbearing women should be educated and supported to have pronurturance during third and fourth stages of labour.
Keywords: Breast feeding; Cohort study; Oxytocin; Postpartum haemorrhage; Skin to skin.
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