In this section
Intermittent skin-to-skin care is widely recognised as a beneficial component of holistic care provision for both term and pre-term neonates. These benefits are just as important for all neonates in providing appropriate developmental care. The improvements for the infant include increased physiological stability, longer periods of quiet sleep, improved self-regulation development, increased breast feeding incidence and duration, decreased pain perception and reduced stress and crying. In very low birth weight infants, SSC has been associated with decreases in mortality and enhanced weight gain. There are also associations between length of SSC and decreased incidence of nosocomial infections.
Parental benefits include enhanced parent-infant attachment with a reduction in the negative effects of having a sick or preterm infant, greater parental ability to recognise their infant’s cues, increased self-confidence, decreased parental depression and increased maternal breast milk supply. If the mother is not available for SSC, staff should offer to facilitate SSC with father of the baby.
Skin to skin care for at least 10 minutes prior to a painful procedure; such as heel lance or intramuscular injection; has been shown to be effective in reducing pain/distress for the neonate, particularly for patients less responsive to sucrose. More information about the use of sucrose can be found here.
The aim of this guideline is to provide all clinical staff with the benefits, criteria and procedure to effectively and safely promote and provide skin-to-skin care to infants and parents during admission.
Skin-to-skin care should be promoted and provided to all haemodynamically stable infants whether pre-term or term, and also offered to families of infants receiving palliative care within the NICU.
Provide a quiet and calm environment, close doors and curtains to ensure privacy:
For more information on pre-term infant management click here.
The evidence table for this guideline can be viewed
Please remember to read the
review of this nursing guideline was coordinated by Emily Dam, Registered Nurse/Registered Midwife, Butterfly Ward,
and approved by the Nursing Clinical Effectiveness Committee. Updated January 2020.