After birth, immediate skin-to-skin contact helps maintain the newborns’ temperature as they transition to life outside the uterus, while enhancing the mothers’ secretion of colostrum and creating an environment conducive to the onset of breastfeeding.
Like full-term newborns, premature newborns are entitled to beneficial skin-to-skin contact with their mother immediately after birth. This recommendation also applies to babies throughout their stay in the intensive care as long as they are clinically stable.
In premature infants, skin-to-skin contact during the hospitalization period may be implemented continuously round the clock. If unfeasible, it can be done intermittently, as often as possible.
When practiced throughout the hospitalization period, skin-to-skin contact is associated with:
A. Decreased neonatal mortality up to the first year of life.
B. Higher rates of exclusive or partial breastfeeding.
C. Higher and steeper weight-gain curves than those of preterm infants kept in incubators.
D. Optimized bonding.
Preterm infants, like term infants, benefit from skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth as well as later, during the hospital stay, even if they require intensive care.