Mother and newborn skin-to-skin contact in sub-Saharan Africa: prevalence and predictors

Richard Gyan ABOAGYE, Michael BOAH, Joshua OKYERE*, Bright Opoku AHINKORAH, Abdul Aziz SEIDU, Edward Kwabena AMEYAW, Bupe MWAMBA, Sanni YAYA

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction Skin-to-skin contact is an evidence-based intervention that signifies a situation whereby a newborn is positioned directly on the mother’s abdomen or chest in order for them to have direct ventral-to-ventral skin contact. The act of skin-to-skin contact begins immediately after delivery to about 23 hours afterwards. Evidence shows that skin-to-skin contact is important in improving child health outcomes. Nevertheless, evidence on its prevalence and predictors in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) remains sparse. The study, therefore, estimated the prevalence of skin-to-skin contact between mothers and their newborns, as well as its predictors.

Methods Using data from the recent Demographic and Health Survey conducted between 2015 and 2020 from 17 countries in SSA, we included 131 094 women who gave birth in the last 5 years preceding the survey in the final analysis. We used percentages to summarise the prevalence of skin-to-skin contact. Multilevel logistic regression analysis was used to determine the predictors of skin-to-skin contact. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) with their corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were used to present the results of the regression analysis.

Results Approximately 42% (41.7 to 42.2) of mothers practiced newborn skin-skin contact. The highest prevalence was found in Benin (75.1% (74.1 to 76.0)) and the lowest prevalence in Nigeria (11.7% (11.2 to 12.1)). The likelihood of skin-to-skin contact was higher among women covered by health insurance, those who delivered in health facilities, those in the richest wealth index, women who attended 1–3 antenatal care (ANC) visits and four or more ANC visits, and those with secondary or higher education. The odds of skin-to-skin contact was low among women who delivered by caesarean section (adjusted OR=0.15; 95% CI 0.13 to 0.16).

Conclusion Considering that less than half of the surveyed women practiced skin-to-skin contact, it is expedient for intensification of advocacy and strict supervision of the practice within the included countries. Informal educational programmes can also be rolled out through various media platforms to sensitise the public and healthcare providers on the need for skin-to-skin contact. These will help maximise the full benefits of skin-to-skin contact and expedite prospects of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal targets 3.1 and 3.2.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere007731
Number of pages10
JournalBMJ Global Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

We acknowledge MEASURE DHS for providing the data.

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


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