The importance of skin–to–skin contact for early initiation of breastfeeding in Nigeria and Bangladesh

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Skin–to–skin contact (SSC) between mother and newborn offers numerous protective effects, however it is an intervention that has been under–utilized. Our objectives are to understand which newborns in Bangladesh and Nigeria receive SSC and whether SSC is associated with the early initiation of breastfeeding.


Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data were used to study the characteristics of newborns receiving SSC for non–facility births in Nigeria (DHS 2013) and for both facility and non–facility births in Bangladesh (DHS 2014). Multivariable logistic regression was used to study the association between SSC and early initiation of breastfeeding after controlling for key socio–demographic, maternal and newborn–related factors.


Only 10% of newborns in Nigeria and 26% of newborns in Bangladesh received SSC. In the regression models, SSC was significantly associated with the early initiation of breastfeeding in both countries (OR = 1.42, 95% CI 1.15–1.76 for Nigeria; OR = 1.27, 95% CI 1.04–1.55, for Bangladesh). Findings from the regression analysis for Bangladesh revealed that newborns born by Cesarean section had a 67% lower odds of early initiation of breastfeeding than those born by normal delivery (OR = 0.33, 95% CI 0.26–0.43). Also in Bangladesh newborns born in a health facility had a 30% lower odds of early initiation of breastfeeding than those born in non–facility environments (OR = 0.70, 95% CI 0.53–0.92). Early initiation of breastfeeding was significantly associated with parity, urban residence and wealth in Nigeria. Geographic area was significant in the regression analyses for both Bangladesh and Nigeria.


Coverage of SSC is very low in the two countries, despite its benefits for newborns without complications. SSC has the potential to save newborn lives. There is a need to prioritize training of health providers on the implementation of essential newborn care including SSC. Community engagement is also needed to ensure that all women and their families regardless of residence, socio–economic status, place or type of delivery, understand the benefits of SSC and early initiation of breastfeeding.

This article belongs to a Journal of Global Health Supplement titled “Measuring coverage of essential maternal and newborn care interventions: An unfinished agenda.”

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