One wonderful thing that can be done for premature babies is kangaroo mother care. Skin to skin contact is greatly beneficial to all babies including healthy ones, but holds a special place in the care of premature babies.
a baby spends approximately 38-42 weeks in the womb growing and developing to
prepare them for life outside of their mother. Unfortunately, sometimes
something goes wrong and babies are born prematurely. Any baby born before 37
weeks gestation is considered to be premature. Sometimes premature babies are
called “preemies” for short. Preemies have
a considerably higher chance of medical complications compared to babies
that are born at full term. They almost always require a longer hospital stay.
Depending on how far along the pregnancy is when the baby is born, they may
require hospitalization for weeks, months or in very extreme cases over a year.
One wonderful thing that can be done for premature babies is kangaroo mother
What is Kangaroo Mother
mother care, often simply referred to as kangaroo care or sometimes even kanga
care, is basically just the practice of holding
your premature baby skin to skin on your chest underneath your clothes or a
blanket. Skin to skin contact is greatly beneficial to all babies including
healthy ones, but holds a special place in the care of premature babies. It
helps them in many ways and can reduce their hospital stay as well as improve
their overall outcomes.
History of Kangaroo Mother
in a Columbian neonatal unit in the twentieth century led a doctor to
implementing kangaroo mother care for the first time.
1. Problems Leading to Kangaroo
the 1970s, the Mother and Child Institute in Bogota, Columbia was experiencing
a disturbingly high death rate amongst
premature babies. It was the largest neonatal unit in all of Columbia with
approximately 30,000 babies born there each year. There was a shortage in
doctors, nurses, and incubators. Typically, 3 babies would have to share a
single incubator and the rates of
infection were very high. A doctor named Rey came up with a solution after
learning about how kangaroos are born and nurtured by their mothers.
2. Physiology of Kangaroos
Baby kangaroos are born very
immature and are usually about the size of a lima bean at birth. They crawl
into their mother’s pouch and spend the first 8 to 11 months or so there. Once
they enter the pouch they immediately latch onto their mother and nurse
consistently. The mother’s body continues to provide temperature regulation.
The way that kangaroo mother’s care for their tiny immature babies peeked Dr.
Rey’s interest and he decided to try a similar approach with premature human
3. Success of Kangaroo Mother
Rey began instructing the mothers of preterm babies to carry them similarly to
kangaroos. He also stressed the
importance of breastfeeding and they began to send premature babies home
earlier in the care of their mothers who had instructions to continue the
practice of kangaroo mother care. Success was seen immediately. The death rate began to drop significantly
as did the amount of infection. Since then, kangaroo mother care has gained
great popularity and spread throughout the globe.
Benefits of Kangaroo Mother
are many benefits of practicing kangaroo mother care with your premature baby.
Benefits range from physical to emotional and studies show that kangaroo mother care even saves lives.
1. Temperature Regulation
of the many struggles of a premature baby is being able to properly regulate
their temperature. This has to do with their immaturity and lack of body fat. When
a baby is placed on its mother’s bare chest skin to skin, her chest automatically adjusts its temperature to whatever
temperature is needed to regulate the baby to the correct temperature. This
makes Mum’s chest the perfect
“incubator” for baby.
2. Regulation of Other Body
top of helping to regulate the temperature of the body, kangaroo mother care
can also play an important role in regulating other aspects of a baby’s body
functions. This can include keeping a steady
heart rate as well as breathing pattern. It also helps to regulate a baby’s
blood sugar and blood pressure.
3. Mother and Baby Bond
skin to skin time during kangaroo mother care provides an amazing opportunity
for mums to bond with their little bubs. Keeping your little one close helps
both of you to get to know each other and helps
to lower stress and improve mood.
4. Higher Chance of
show that kangaroo mother care heightens the chance of a successful
breastfeeding relationship. This skin to skin time during kangaroo mother care
allows the baby optimal time to learn how to breastfeed properly. It also stimulates the production of oxytocin
which is an important hormone for bonding and breastfeeding.
5. Less Crying
infant, premature or not, cries less when they are able to consistently be
close to their mother. This reduced crying is especially crucial for premature
babies. By helping to prevent a baby from crying, you are reducing the amount of stress the baby experiences which helps them
to put every bit of their precious energy into the very important growing and
developing they have to do.
6. Increased Sleep
on their mother’s chest makes a baby feel very safe and warm. This security
achieved through kangaroo mother care allows a baby to get plenty of sleep
which is completely crucial to their
7. Parental Benefits
mother care is not just good for the babies, but is also good for the parents
of the babies. Not only does it help to increase breastmilk supply in mothers,
but it also helps you feel more in
control of the situation and allows you to care for your baby yourself. It
often also increases the confidence parents have in their ability to properly
care for their children.
8. Other Benefits
also reveal that premature babies whose parents practice kangaroo mother care
also experience the following benefits:
Better oxygen saturation
Faster weight gain
Shorter hospital stays
Does Mum Have to be the
Exclusive Provider of Kangaroo Mother Care?
are certainly not the only ones that are able to provide this wonderful form of
care for their sweet bubs. Anyone can do
kangaroo mother care with your baby. It’s a good idea to take turns with
your partner or possibly even other family members so that you can provide
optimal amount of uninterrupted kangaroo mother care time for your little one
but also take care of yourself as well. Taking turns also provides a good
opportunity for your partner to bond with your baby.
How to Perform Kangaroo
mother care is very simple and easy to learn how to do. Depending on your place
of birth, you may be taught how to perform kangaroo mother care by the staff.
Even without that help though, kangaroo
mother care is very easy to do. You simply place your baby with their chest
against your chest. For women, you’d place the baby high up in between the
breasts. For men, the baby should be placed in a similar position in the center
of the chest. The chest of the person performing the care should be completely
bare and the baby should be wearing nothing more than a nappy and perhaps a hat
to ensure optimal skin to skin contact. Generally, the adults clothing or a
blanket should be placed over top of baby.
Focus on Your Baby
newborn period can be a fragile time in any baby’s life but that is even more
true with a preemie. The role you play
during this time can deeply affect every aspect of life for your little one.
To give your baby the best chance of survival and good development, spend as
much time as possible doing kangaroo mother care with your baby. Consider
taking some time off of work if at all possible and do whatever you can to
spend as much time with your bub as you are able to. You will never regret
spending this time with your precious little bub.
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