Aim: To evaluate how different delivery-ward routines influence temperature in newborn infants. Methods: A total of 176 newborn mother-infant pairs were included in a randomized study. The babies were kept skin-to-skin on the mother's chest (Skin-to-skin group), held in their mother's arms, being either swaddled or clothed (Mother's arms group), or kept in a cot in the nursery, being either swaddled or clothed (Nursery group). Temperature was measured in the axilla, on the thigh, back and foot at 15-min intervals at from 30 to 120 min after birth. Results: During this time period the axilla, back and thigh temperatures rose significantly in all the treatment groups. The foot temperature displayed a significant fall in the babies in the Nursery group and this decrease was greatest in the swaddled babies. In contrast, foot temperature rose in the babies in the Mother's arms group and in particular in babies in the Skin-to-skin group. Foot temperature remained high in the Skin-to-skin group, whereas the low temperature observed in the Nursery group gradually increased and two days after birth the difference was no longer significant.
Conclusion: The results show that delivery-ward routines influence skin temperature in infants in the postnatal period. Allowing mother and baby the ward routine of skin-to-skin contact after birth may be a “natural way” of reversing stress-related effects on circulation induced during labour.