To investigate the research question: Is there a relationship between the number of minutes of skin-to-skin (STS) contact between mother and infant during hospitalization and the rate of breastfeeding exclusivity at 4 and 8 weeks postpartum?
Descriptive correlational study.
Urban nonprofit hospital with an average of 1,100 births per year.
Term pregnant women who had a vaginal delivery of a well newborn with intent to exclusively breastfeed. Sixty-five women were enrolled into the study. Thirty women were excluded (cesarean delivery, infant admission to level II nursery, incomplete data collection). Thirty-five women completed the inpatient data collection and follow-up telephone calls at four and 8 weeks postpartum to assess breastfeeding exclusivity.
Subjects were recruited from a midwifery practice during prenatal care. At birth, newborns were placed STS with their mothers. Mothers were educated on how to provide STS for their newborns while in the hospital and maintained a log of the number of minutes of STS while in the hospital. Follow-up phone calls were made at 4 and 8 weeks postpartum for assessment of exclusive breastfeeding, using the Index of Breastfeeding Status.
Data were analyzed using correlation and chi-square. The total length of time of STS in the hospital was not correlated with breastfeeding exclusivity at 4 and 8 weeks. However, STS occurring immediately at birth was positively associated with exclusive breastfeeding at 4 weeks postpartum. Increased times to STS and increased time to first breastfeeding were negatively associated with breastfeeding exclusivity. Additionally, infants with increased length of stay and those who were supplemented with formula were less likely to be exclusively breastfed at 4 and 8 weeks postpartum.
Conclusion/Implications for Nursing Practice
STS starting at birth was found to be significant for increasing breastfeeding exclusivity. Implications for practice include changing nursing and medical practice at delivery and placing healthy infants STS with their mothers at birth instead of routinely handing infants to the resuscitation team. Weaknesses of this study include recall bias and possible self-selection bias in recruiting women with intent to exclusively breastfeed.