Background: Mother and newborn skin-to-skin contact (SSC) after birth brings about numerous protective effects; however, it is an intervention that is underutilized in Iraq where a globally considerable rate of maternal and child death has been reported. The present study was conducted in order to assess the effects of SCC on initiation of breastfeeding, newborn temperature, and duration of the third stage of labor.
Methods: A quasi-experimental study was conducted on 108 healthy women and their neonates (56 in the intervention group who received SSC and 52 in the routine care group) at Hawler maternity teaching hospital of Erbil, Iraq from February to May, 2017. Data were collected via structured interviews and the LATCH scale to document breastfeeding sessions.
Results: The mean age of the mothers in the SSC and routine care groups were 26.29 ± 6.13 (M ± SD) and 26.02 ± 5.94 (M ± SD) respectively. Based on the LATCH scores, 48% of mothers who received SSC and 46% with routine care had successful breastfeeding. Newborns who received SSC initiated breastfeeding within 2.41 ± 1.38 (M ± SD) minutes after birth; however, newborns who received routine care started breastfeeding in 5.48 ± 5.7 (M ± SD) minutes. Duration of the third stage of labor in mothers who practiced SSC after birth was 6 ± 1.7 min, compared to 8.02 ± 3.6 min for mothers who were provided with routine care (p < 0.001). Moreover, the prevalence of hypothermia in the newborns who received SSC and routine care was 2 and 42% respectively. Results remained unchanged after using regression modelling to adjust for potential factors and background characteristics.
Conclusion: Skin-to-skin contact provides an appropriate and affordable yet high quality alternative to technology. It is easily implemented, even in small hospitals of very low-income countries, and has the potential to save newborns' and mothers' lives. It is necessary to prioritize training of health providers to implement essential newborn care including SSC. Community engagement is also needed to ensure that all women and their families understand the benefits of SSC and early initiation of breastfeeding.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT03548389.
Keywords: Early skin-to-skin contact; Initiation of breastfeeding; Temperature; Third stage of labor.