Skin-to-skin contact by fathers and the impact on infant and paternal outcomes: an integrative review

Midwifery. 2016 Sep:40:207-17. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2016.07.007. Epub 2016 Jul 5.


Objective: to summarise research evidence on the impact of father-infant skin-to-skin contact on infant and paternal outcomes.

Design: an integrative literature review.

Data sources: PubMed, ScienceDirect, PsycINFO, and Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health.

Review methods: studies included were: (1) published in English between January 1995 to September 2015; (2) primary researches; and (3) focused on fathers providing skin-to-skin contact with their infants and its impact on infant and paternal outcomes. The Joanna Briggs Institute's Critical Appraisal Checklists were used to appraise the scientific rigour of the studies.

Findings: twelve studies (10 quantitative and two qualitative) were included in this review. Father-infant skin-to-skin contact had positive impacts on infants' outcomes, including temperature and pain, bio-physiological markers, behavioural response, as well as paternal outcomes, which include parental role attainment, paternal interaction behaviour, and paternal stress and anxiety.

Conclusions: a father's involvement in providing skin-to-skin contact seems to be feasible and beneficial to both infants and fathers. However, there has been a scarcity of literature that exclusively examines fathers' involvement and perceptions related to skin-to-skin contact in the postpartum period. Future research should examine skin-to-skin contact by fathers and its associated benefits, as well as fathers' perceptions on father-infant SSC among varied populations.

Implications for practice: a father's involvement in providing skin-to-skin contact should be promoted during the postnatal period. Father-infant skin-to-skin contact is a valuable alternative, especially during the unavailability of mothers due to special circumstances, including medical emergencies and caesarean section.

Keywords: Fathers; Infant; Kangaroo care; Literature review; Skin-to-skin care; Skin-to-skin contact.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Father-Child Relations*
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Paternal Behavior / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Touch*