Worldwide prevalence of mother-infant skin-to-skin contact after vaginal birth: A systematic review Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Despite the World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendation for immediate skin-to-skin contact (SSC) after birth, separation of mothers and infants seems to be common practice in many hospitals. It is unknown how common the practice of SSC is worldwide. Therefore, we aimed to determine the reported prevalence of SSC for healthy mothers and infants immediately after normal birth. METHODS:We systematically searched CINAHL, Medline, ProQuest Central, PubMed and the Cochrane Library for articles published between January 2007 and October 2017 using the keywords "kangaroo care" or "skin to skin contact" or "breastfeeding initiation" or "breast crawl" or "maternal infant contact" or "maternal newborn contact" or "baby friendly hospital initiative" or "ten steps for successful breastfeeding". RESULTS:After an initial screening of 5266 records, 84 full text articles were assessed for eligibility, and 35 of these met the inclusion criteria. The studies were from 28 countries representing all six WHO world regions. There was a wide range in the practice of SSC for mother-infant dyads around the world: from 1% to 98%. Only 15 studies clearly defined SSC. Most of the studies were from high-income countries, and these reported higher rates of SSC than studies from low and middle-income countries. CONCLUSION:There was a great heterogeneity in the definition of SSC as well as study designs, which makes cross-county comparison difficult. National studies reporting SSC rates are lacking. Future studies and guidelines to enhance SSC practice should include a standardised set of indicators and measurement tools that document SSC starting time and duration of SSC.

publication date

  • 2018