Skin-to-skin contact between mothers and full-term babies

Friday 17 November 2023, 12:30 pm
PhD student
K.H.M. Cooijmans MSc.
prof. dr. C. de Weerth
dr. R. Beijers

In skin-to-skin contact, the baby is laid on the parent's bare chest wearing only a nappy. Skin-to-skin contact between the parent and a premature baby leads to a wide range of positive outcomes. These positive outcomes are also observed in full-term babies when skin-to-skin contact is applied immediately after delivery. In this PhD thesis, we extended the period of skin-to-skin contact. We tested the effectiveness of a daily hour of skin-to-skin contact between mothers and full-term babies for the first five weeks after birth. 
The results were extremely promising. Evidence was found that regular skin-to-skin contact reduced anxiety and maternal fatigue, prolonged the breastfeeding period, reduced babies’ crying time, and prolonged babies’ sleeping time. No effects were found with respect to depression, stress, and pain symptoms in the mother. 
Daily skin-to-skin contact is therefore potentially a cost-free and effective intervention for mothers and their full-term babies. Since we also found that a daily hour of skin-to-skin contact is not feasible for everyone, follow-up research is needed to confirm the current results and explore how to make this intervention more accessible to all mothers. 

Kelly Cooijmans (1990) studied Psychology and completed her Bachelor's degree at Radboud University in 2013. She went on to obtain her Research Master's degree in Behavioural Science cum laude in 2015, also at Radboud University. In 2015, she started her PhD research on the development and effectiveness of a skin-to-skin contact intervention in healthy mothers and their full-term babies. After completing her PhD, she started work as a medical information specialist at the Research Office of the Jeroen Bosch Hospital in 's-Hertogenbosch.