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Have you ever heard of kangaroo mother care?
It’s one of the most natural ways of caring for your baby. But, it also has been shown to have tremendous power in helping premature babies stabilize in the hours, days and weeks after birth.
However, kangaroo mother care (KMC) is not only beneficial for premature babies. It’s great for all newborns! It’s especially helpful for infants who are struggling with breastfeeding, gaining weight or other newborn challenges.
Is kangaroo care the same thing as skin-to-skin? No, but skin-to-skin is definitely a part of kangaroo care!
It’s Kangaroo Mother Care Awareness Day!
Every May 15th, we celebrate International Kangaroo Mother Care Awareness Day. This is a way to draw attention to this revolutionary practice, which has changed the face of perinatal health care in developing countries.
So… what exactly is kangaroo care?
Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), as defined by the World Health Organization, consists of these three components:
- Early hospital discharge when possible
First, baby should be receiving skin to skin contact for as much time as possible.
This means that baby should be making lots of direct skin contact with a parent. The amount of contact depends on the health of the baby and the technology needed to facilitate baby’s care.
The second component is breastfeeding, as KMC promotes the exclusive use of breastfeeding for baby.
Early skin to skin contact in your arms or in a baby-wearing carrier makes it easier for baby to begin latching and successfully feeding. Skin to skin and breastfeeding work in tandem to benefit your baby’s health.
Early Hospital Discharge
Finally, KMC suggests the use of early hospital discharge whenever possible. The comfort and stability of home encourages and maximizes physical contact with parents.
Kangaroo Care Research
There is real science behind KMC. (source)
Researchers have shown the connection of neural pathways between a mom and baby when they are held directly against the skin. This allows babies to feel comfortable and safe, minimizing stress which steadies their breathing and heart rate.
Any separation of baby from their parent has been shown to cause them stress, and KMC minimizes this by keeping them close as often as possible.
Research also backs the profound benefits it can have in stabilizing premature infants.
For example, in Dr. Nils Bergman’s 2004 study, the stability rate of premature babies was assessed in response to both KMC and incubator placement.
All babies who received KMC stabilized within six hours, while only half of incubated babies were able to stabilize during that time.
More About Kangaroo Care
If you’d like to learn more about KMC, please visit Kangaroo Mother Care’s website.
A discussion about kangaroo care and skin to skin wouldn’t be complete without talking about baby wearing!
Are you interested in learning more about the many scientific benefits of baby wearing?
Check out this fabulous infographic (below) from “We The Parents.”
You can also learn more about the different options for baby carries HERE.