Who benefits most from skin-to-skin mother-infant contact after birth? Survey findings on skin-to-skin and birth satisfaction by mode of birth

Rotem Kahalon, Heidi Preis, Yael Benyamini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: Previous research has shown that skin-to-skin contact in the delivery room is associated with an increase satisfaction with childbirth. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether this association differs as a function of mode of birth, such that the positive effect of skin-to-skin contact would be especially pronounced for women who had operative births. Design: Survey design using self-administered questionnaires during pregnancy (Time 1) and at two months postpartum (Time 2). Setting: At Time 1, women were recruited at community and hospital medical centres in two large metropolitan areas in the centre of Israel and through home midwives and internet forums. At Time 2, women completed a second questionnaire in which they reported whether they had skin-to-skin contact with their infant immediately after birth and their birth satisfaction. Participants: Pregnant women, gestation week ≥24, with singleton pregnancy, who took part in both T1 and T2 (N = 1371, 75% of the 1833 women recruited at T1). Measurements: Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to examine whether the association between skin-to-skin contact after birth and birth satisfaction two months post-partum, differs as a function of mode of birth. Maternal or infant complications during birth, parity, and whether the pregnancy was planned, served as covariates. Birth satisfaction was measured using the Childbirth Satisfaction Scale. All measures were self-reported. Findings: The frequency of skin-to-skin was high (83%) for women who had vaginal birth, but lower for women who had an instrumental birth (66%) or a caesarean section (31%). At two months postpartum, women who had operative births reported less satisfaction with their birth than women who gave birth via vaginal birth. A significant interaction between skin-to-skin and mode of birth showed that although skin-to-skin was associated with higher birth satisfaction among women across all three modes of birth, i.e., vaginal (Cohen's d = .41), instrumental (Cohen's d = .64) and caesarean (Cohen's d = .87), the effect for the difference in birth satisfaction between women with and without skin-to-skin was especially large for operative births, particularly for caesarean sections. Key Conclusions: Operative birth is related to lower satisfaction with childbirth and lower rates of skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth. Yet, the association between skin-to-skin and birth satisfaction is especially strong for women who had operative births and specifically a caesarean section, suggesting that the possible contribution of skin-to-skin to birth satisfaction should be emphasised particularly after operative births. Implications for Practice: It is recommended that maternity care providers, managers, policy makers and medical teams facilitate skin-to-skin contact between the woman and her infant immediately, or as soon as possible, after childbirth, in both operative and non-operative births.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102862
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


This paper relates to the EU COST Action CA18211: DEVoTION: Perinatal Mental Health and Birth-Related Trauma: Maximizing best practice and optimal outcomes. Yael Benyamini is a member of COST Action CA18211. This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 351/16).

FundersFunder number
European Cooperation in Science and TechnologyCA18211
Israel Science Foundation351/16


    • Birth satisfaction
    • Caesarean section
    • Instrumental birth
    • Mode of birth
    • Operative birth
    • Skin-to-skin


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