Skin contact between babies and mothers aids breastfeeding
Babies who have skin-on-skin contact with their mothers within an hour of being born are 50 per cent more likely to be breastfeeding six months later, new research has found.
Experts have detected a "golden hour" after delivery in which a baby resting on its mother’s bare stomach is instinctively drawn to the breast. As well as helping the mum and tot bond, this move is thought to make feeding a lot easier from the get go.
A total of 46 trials involving 3,850 women and their babies across 21 countries discovered those who had skin-to-skin contact within 60 minutes would breastfeed for around 64 days longer than those babies in a cot or incubator, and the skin-to-skin were also 50 per cent more likely to continue feeding until they were half-a-year old.
Furthermore, babies were found to be less stressed and have stable heart and breathing rates if held close to their mother’s bare skin after the trauma of being born.
"After the first hour or two, stress hormones in the baby from being born recede and the baby gets really, really sleepy," said lead author Elizabeth Moore, from Vanderbilt University in the U.S. "You want to catch them in the first hour when they are wide awake, moving around and interested in latching on and sucking, because after that they crash. So that hour is what they call the golden hour."
It’s believed odour cues from the mum’s body also play a part in how babies learn to feed. Experts note more research is needed into the benefits of skin-to-skin contact for babies born by caesarean.