The importance of early skin-to-skin contact between mothers and very premature babies has been highlighted by researchers.
The qualitative study looked at births that occur from week 28 to 32 of pregnancy, with the infants having a mean birth weight of 1486g. The births were split into two groups, with one group receiving traditional care (the babies were separated from their mothers to be stabilised in incubators from two to 30 hours after birth) and the other group was offered skin-to-skin contact with their babies within an hour after birth. After the births, the mothers were interviewed about their experiences.
The interviews show the mothers’ strong need for affirmation of vitality immediately after a very preterm delivery, and affirmation was best obtained through skin-to-skin contact, according to the researchers. The mothers felt that early skin-to-skin contact promoted bonding and a feeling of wellbeing, the lead author said.
Since this research was published, WHO has said that skin-to-skin contact is key to improving the survival of premature and small babies – a major overhaul of policy, which previously called for the use of incubators. Its new guidelines for how to treat babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy or weighing under 2.5kg applies in all settings.
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