Aim: To study the influence on breastfeeding of skin-to-skin contact after birth. Methods: Using a prospective cohort study design, a group of 1250 Polish children was investigated with 3 y follow-up. Results: The implementation of the practice significantly increased mean duration of exclusive breastfeeding by 0.39 mo and overall breastfeeding duration by 1.43 mo. The infants kept with the mothers for at least 20 min were exclusively breastfed for 1.35 mo longer and weaned 2.10 mo later than those who had no skin-to-skin contact after delivery. The skin-to-skin contact after birth significantly coexisted with the other hospital practices supportive to breastfeeding, especially rooming-in without separation longer than 1 h per 24 h [relative risk (RR) = 3.18, 95% confidence interval (95% CI): 2.34–4.31] and first breastfeeding within 2 h after birth (RR = 2.94, 95% CI: 2.36–3.67. Multivariate analysis performed by a general linear model with duration of exclusive breastfeeding as the dependent variable indicated skin-to-skin contact and mother education as two independent variables influencing the duration of exclusive breastfeeding.
Conclusion: The results indicate that extensive mother-infant skin-to-skin contact lasting for longer than 20 min after birth increases the duration of exclusive breastfeeding.