ABSTRACT. We tested the hypothesis that extra early physical contact between mother and infant enhances aspects of their early relationship. Healthy, middle-class mothers and their healthy, firstborn, singleton infants delivered vaginally at full-term were randomly assigned to receive either regular contact (RC; N=39) or extra early physical contact (EC; N=39) following delivery. RC infants remained in cribs beside their mothers’beds, while EC infants and mothers had a mean of 46 min of physical contact in the recovery room.
There was no difference between EC and RC subjects for the following outcome measures: amount of time mothers chose to have infants with them during the postpartum hospital stay; quality of mother-infant interaction at two days and one month; concern mothers expressed for the infant at one month; mothers’perception of their postpartum adjustment; mothers’perception of the infant at two days and one month, and of the infant's temperament at eight months; and extent of mothers’assisting with and soothing the child during a physical examination at 13 months. EC children cried significantly less during the examination at 13 months. These findings do not support the hypothesis that extra early physical contact between mother and infant enhances their relationship.