Both of my sisters ended up breastfeeding their children mainly because they thought it was the best solution for them and their babies. Breastfeeding gives children natural immunities and nutrients and it’s also a close bonding experience. Though they were successful in breastfeeding their children for at least six months, not all women are able to breastfeed for as long. Even though many mothers may desire to breastfeed their children, there can be some roadblocks. This doesn’t mean that they’re unable to breastfeed. It just means that the process is much more difficult. Either the infants don’t want to latch on, or the whole process seems tiring and time consuming and just not worth the effort.

New research presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando on October 28th says that immediate skin-to-skin contact in the delivery room combined with the mother’s willingness to breastfeed can increase the chances of breastfeeding longer and with fewer difficulties. That’s not to say that the process can’t still come with challenges, but the contact can help mothers bond to their children and help the process on an emotional level.

During the study, 150 newborn hospital records were reviewed and examined for information on whether or not the mother and infant had skin-to-skin contact in the delivery room. They also checked maternal age, gestational age, mode of delivery, intention to breastfeed, admission temperature, and glucose testing on admission to the newborn nursery. Also noted was the number of formula feedings, discharge weight, birth weight, and duration of the hospital stay.

Out of the reviewed records, 53% of the newborns had skin-to-skin contact with their mothers in the delivery room and in the beginning 72% of the mothers planned to breastfeed exclusively. In the end, only 28% of the women actually did breastfeed exclusively, but out of those who did, skin-to-skin contact was significantly associated with their perseverance. No other factors influenced the likeliness of prolonged breastfeeding as strongly as maternal willingness and skin-to-skin contact.

"Breastfeeding is one of the easiest things we can do for babies to make sure they're growing up healthy," said study author Dr. Darshna Bhatt. "While skin-to-skin contact is associated positively with exclusive breastfeeding, the statistically significant factor is intention. We have to create a more interdisciplinary approach to increasing awareness and intention. When moms declare their intention to breastfeed, there really shouldn't be a reason why they don't have skin-to-skin contact with her new infant in the delivery room."

The research team describes the phenomenon between the mother’s intent to breastfeed and skin-to-skin touch as a “synergistic effect.”

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (2013, October 28). Early skin-to-skin contact linked to higher breastfeeding rates. ScienceDaily.

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