Father's Touch Soothes Newborns
After C-Section Birth, Newborns Find Dad's Skin Soothing When Mom Isn't Available
June 7, 2007 -- After cesarean section (C-section), newborns may cry less
and sleep sooner if they rest on dad's chest instead of in a cot, a Swedish
"This valuable information can be used to encourage fathers to provide
skin-to-skin care for their babies," write the researchers.
They add that fathers "should thus be seen as the primary caregiver for
the infant during the separation of mother and baby."
The researchers included Kerstin Erlandsson, RNM, MNursSci, a graduate
student in the reproductive and perinatal health division of the Karolinska
Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
They studied 29 Swedish men whose wives or girlfriends had just given birth
by C-section to healthy babies.
Immediately after the babies were born, the infants got five to 10 minutes
of skin-to-skin contact with their mothers. Then the babies spent the next two
hours with their dads.
During those two hours, 14 fathers were asked to care for their babies,
skin-to-skin, on their chest. The other 15 fathers were asked to sit in a chair
next to a cot where their swaddled baby lay.
The dads sitting next to the cots were free to caress or sing to their baby.
But they weren't allowed to pick up their baby.
An observer watched the fathers and children interact. A tape recorder also
recorded the interactions.
The observer made notes every 15 minutes. Later, another researcher who
didn't know which babies were being held listened to and analyzed the
The babies cradled on their fathers' chests cried less and fell asleep
sooner than the babies in the cots.
Crying babies calmed down within 15 minutes of being held by their dads and
became drowsy in an hour.
Babies in cots, on the other hand, took longer to be soothed and became
drowsy in an hour and 50 minutes.
Skin-to-skin contact with the father is "optimal for the infant's
well-being when the mother and infant are separated after a cesarean
birth," the researchers conclude.
- Will your partner be a nurturer,
a fainter, or maybe just a couch potato during delivery? Talk about it on
the Pregnancy: 3rd Trimester message board.