Sex differences in newborn interaction with mother or father during skin‐to‐skin contact after Caesarean section

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Aim:  To investigate differences between the breast‐seeking and crying behaviour of girls and boys in skin‐to‐skin contact (SSC) with their mother or their father after Caesarean section as well as the point‐in‐time for the first breastfeeding and to compare mothers’ and fathers’ interactive behaviour with their newborn girl or boy.

Methods:  Twenty girls and 17 boys were randomized to 25 min of SSC with one or the other parent immediately after birth. The interaction was videotaped.

Results:  Girls started rooting movements earlier than boys in SSC with either parent (p = 0.027). Infants started to breastfeed significantly earlier if having been in SSC with mothers compared with SSC with fathers during the first 5–30 min (p = 0.018). Girls cried more than boys in SSC with either parent (p = 0.02). Mothers used more touching behaviour towards their newborn infant than fathers (p = 0.001). Mothers touched girls less than boys (p = 0.038). Fathers directed less speech towards girls compared with boys (p = 0.042).

Conclusion:  Early mother–infant SSC immediately after Caesarean section should be promoted until the occurrence of the first breastfeed. If the mother is unable to provide SSC immediately after birth, the father–infant SSC is a valuable alternative because it enhances paternal interaction.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1:  Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Division Reproductive Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden 2:  Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agriculture, Skara, Sweden

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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