Skin to Skin Contact in Nursing

Introduction

Nowadays, separation of mothers from their newborn babies at delivery has become a usual practice despite the escalating evidence that this may have negative effects on the newborn. A growing volume of research supports skin to skin contact between the mother and the newborn in the immediate post-delivery period. Skin to skin contact is defined as placing the naked newborn baby, prone covered across the back with a warm blanket, on the mother’s bare chest instantaneously following birth.

A substantial number of studies showed that early skin to skin contact between the mother and the newborn is beneficial to the newborn. Some of the benefits of skin to skin contact include stabilization of the newborn’s body temperature through thermoregulation, regulation of heart rate and regulation of respiratory rate (Wallace & Marshal, 2001). Additionally, early skin to skin contact facilitates the initiation of breastfeeding, helps neonatal thermoregulation and promotes maternal-infant bonding (Dabrowski, 2007; Wallace & Marshal, 2001). Skin to skin contact may also ensure colonization of the baby with the mother’s own skin flora, for which the child will have some resistance (Wallace & Marshal, 2001).

Despite its aforementioned benefits and despite the UNICEF’s Baby Friendly best practice campaign which calls for early skin to skin contact, this practice is still not being implemented in the labor room in Bahrain. This can be due to lack of labor room nurses knowledge about the benefits of skin to skin contact. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to assess the current knowledge level of labor room nurses about skin to skin contact. The problem statement is: what is the perception of labor room nurses towards skin to skin contact between mother and the newborn? The research questions are (1) what do labor room nurses know about skin to skin contact?, (2) what are the factors labor room nurses identify as barriers to implementation of skin to skin contact, (3) what are the factors labor room nurses identify as facilitators to implementation of skin to skin contact?

Identifying knowledge level of labor room nurses will help in designing and implementing in-service education programs to educate nurses about the importance of skin to skin contact. Additionally, identifying the barriers and facilitators of skin to skin contact will help in designing interventions to decrease the barriers and increase the factors that will facilitate skin to skin contact. Increasing knowledge level of labor room nurses, decreasing the barriers and increasing the factors that facilitate skin to skin contact will help in increased implementation of skin to skin contact in the labor rooms in Bahrain.

Conceptual definition:

1. Skin to skin contact: Placing the naked newborn on the mother’s bare chest immediately after birth.

2. Knowledge: Information about skin to skin contact

3. Barriers: Factors that decrease the likelihood of implementing skin to skin contact

4. Facilitators: Factors that encourage the implementation of skin to skin contact

Operational definition:

1. Skin to skin contact: placing the naked newborn baby, on his/her stomach covered across the back with a warm blanket, on the mother’s bare chest for at least 15 minutes starting immediately after birth.

2. Knowledge: the amount of information labor room nurses have about how to implement skin to skin contact and the benefits of skin to skin contact.

3. Barriers: the factors that prevent labor room nurses from implementing skin to skin contact.

4. Facilitators: the factors that help labor room nurses to implement skin to skin contact.

One limitation of this study was the difficulties we encountered in trying to meet with the key stakeholders. Their busy schedules prevented them from devoting enough time to understanding our study. Another limitation was the fact that our group could not meet as frequently as we would have liked. Carrying out as group had several limitations due to other commitments it was difficult to meet frequently.