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Birth. 2010 Sep;37(3):192-201. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-536X.2010.00406.x.

Onset of vocal interaction between parents and newborns in skin-to-skin contact immediately after elective cesarean section.

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Department of Women's and Children's Health, Division of Sexual Reproductive and Perinatal Health, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.



Cesarean section is associated with delayed mother-infant interaction because neither the mother nor the father routinely maintains skin-to-skin contact with the infant after birth. The aim of the study was to explore and compare parent-newborn vocal interaction when the infant is placed in skin-to-skin contact either with the mother or the father immediately after a planned cesarean section.


A total of 37 healthy infants born to primiparas were randomized to 30 minutes of skin-to-skin contact either with fathers or mothers after an initial 5 minutes of skin-to-skin contact with the mothers after birth. The newborns' and parents' vocal interaction were recorded on a videotape and audiotape. The following variables were explored: newborns' and parents' soliciting, newborns' crying and whining, and parental speech directed to the other parent and to the newborn.


Newborns' soliciting increased over time (p=0.032). Both fathers and mothers in skin-to-skin contact communicated more vocally with the newborn than did fathers (p=0.003) and mothers (p=0.009) without skin-to-skin contact. Fathers in skin-to-skin contact also communicated more with the mother (p=0.046) and performed more soliciting responses than the control fathers (p=0.010). Infants in skin-to-skin contact with their fathers cried significantly less than those in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers (p=0.002) and shifted to a relaxed state earlier than in skin-to-skin contact with mothers (p=0.029).


Skin-to-skin contact between infants and parents immediately after planned cesarean section promotes vocal interaction. When placed in skin-to-skin contact and exposed to the parents' speech, the infants initiated communication with soliciting calls with the parents within approximately 15 minutes after birth. These findings give reason to encourage parents to keep the newborn in skin-to-skin contact after cesarean section, to support the early onset of the first vocal communication.

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