Exploring the skin-to-skin contact experience during cesarean section

Anitra C Frederick, The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston


Background: Current research has demonstrated the effectiveness of skin-to-skin contact (SSC) for postpartum mothers and their transitioning neonates after vaginal birth. Following cesarean birth, the dyad is routinely separated for monitoring and assessment purposes, denying mother and neonate the benefits of SSC. The rate of cesarean section is rising. In 2009, 1.3 million women delivered their neonates via cesarean. There is a paucity of literature concerning the use of SSC post cesarean birth. Aims: The aim of this study was to explore and describe the mother's experience of SSC during and immediately after cesarean closure. Methods: A qualitative, interpretive descriptive approach was used. Data collection was conducted through direct observation of the SSC holding session during cesarean closure and through an interview session with the mother 24-72 hours postpartum. Content analysis was used to analyze the interview data. Results: The main theme which emerged from the data was the Mutual Caregiving shared between mother and neonate. Two important concepts, the Father's Influence and the Cesarean Environment, also became known. Mothers reported feeling intensely focused on their neonate during SSC. Mothers were calmed during SSC and believed their baby was equally calmed. However, the surroundings and ongoing surgical procedure were constantly on their minds. Fathers offered support and acted as a buffer to the environment. Discussion: The use of SSC post cesarean birth is both feasible and desirable. Mothers who participated in the study frequently commented that the use of SSC during cesarean should be an option for all mothers. Suggestions for improving the use of SSC during cesarean closure were offered. Nurses can enhance the cesarean birth experience by implementing the use of SSC during cesarean closure. Further research and practice change investigation is warranted to ensure the highest level of quality and safety for future dyads experiencing SSC after cesarean birth. Key Words: Skin-to-Skin Contact, Kangaroo Care, Cesarean Section, Maternal Experience, Qualitative Research, Interpretive Descriptive, Content Analysis.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Frederick, Anitra C, "Exploring the skin-to-skin contact experience during cesarean section" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3574412.