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Mother-infant proximity in the postnatal period

baby with mother looking over them

Research at Durham demonstrated the benefits of using side-car cribs in postpartum settings and the close link between increased breastfeeding frequency and mother-baby night-time contact via three randomised trials of night-time care in a United Kingdom postnatal ward. Our findings led to changes in recommended best practice in postnatal care in the United Kingdom and overseas.

We showed that the use of stand-alone bassinettes to accommodate babies in mothers’ room impeded interaction between mothers and babies at night, leading to poorer breastfeeding initiation, unsafe handling, and low maternal confidence. Consequently, United Kingdom hospitals began using 3-sided cribs with an open side adjacent to the mother’s bed on postnatal wards.

United Kingdom and international organisations have also used our findings from the trials to develop new policies for staff and guidance for parents emphasising the importance of mother-baby night-time contact for breastfeeding initiation and continuation. In the United Kingdom our work affects the postnatal care of 630,000 mothers and babies annually.