Skin-to-skin contact the first hour after birth, underlying implications and clinical practice

Acta Paediatr. 2019 Jul;108(7):1192-1204. doi: 10.1111/apa.14754. Epub 2019 Mar 13.


Aim: This paper integrates clinical expertise to earlier research about the behaviours of the healthy, alert, full-term infant placed skin-to-skin with the mother during the first hour after birth following a noninstrumental vaginal birth.

Method: This state-of-the-art article forms a link within the knowledge-to-action cycle, integrating clinical observations and practice with evidence-based findings to guide clinicians in their work to implement safe uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact the first hours after birth.

Results: Strong scientific research exists about the importance of skin-to-skin in the first hour after birth. This unique time for both mother and infant, individually and in relation to each other, provides vital advantages to short- and long-term health, regulation and bonding. However, worldwide, clinical practice lags. A deeper understanding of the implications for clinical practice, through review of the scientific research, has been integrated with enhanced understanding of the infant's instinctive behaviour and maternal responses while in skin-to-skin contact.

Conclusion: The first hour after birth is a sensitive period for both the infant and the mother. Through an enhanced understanding of the newborn infant's instinctive behaviour, practical, evidence-informed suggestions strive to overcome barriers and facilitate enablers of knowledge translation. This time must be protected by evidence-based routines of staff.

Keywords: Breastfeeding; Clinical practice; Maternal behaviour; Newborn infant behaviour; Skin-to-skin contact.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Humans
  • Infant Behavior*
  • Infant, Newborn*
  • Kangaroo-Mother Care Method*
  • Perinatal Care / methods
  • Perinatal Care / standards*