A technique originally practiced in South America on pre-term babies in the NICU (neonatal intensive-care unit), kangaroo care is increasingly becoming popular with doctors and childcare experts across the world for its numerous health benefits for the baby and the mother.

Kangaroo Care: Benefits of a Mother’s Touch 

The practice usually involves holding the infant/newborn close to the mother’s chest to maximize skin-to-skin contact, which doctors say works wonders in building immunity, regularizes the heartbeat and benefits the overall health of the baby.

How Does Kangaroo Care Help The Baby? Even if practiced for a few minutes a day, kangaroo care can immensely benefit newborn, especially babies who were born prematurely. [1]

  • The warmth of holding your baby close to your chest stabilizes its breathing and heartbeat.
  • Holding your baby in your arms makes it feel secure, reducing its crying and helping it sleep better.
  • Kangaroo care facilitates breastfeeding in premature babies and helps the baby gain weight.
  • Giving your premature baby kangaroo care will help reduce the stress of the NICU environment on the baby’s brain, which will reduce his risk of neurodevelopmental disabilities. [2]

The relations between kangaroo care and better neurodevelopmental outcomes was established by a study conducted on 38 premature babies (between 27 to 30 weeks gestational age). Babies who were born prematurely were given kangaroo care had fewer cases of bradycardia, the abnormal slowing down of the heart, and also had better circulation of oxygen in the blood. [3]


kangaroo care

 

How Does Kangaroo Care Help The Mother? Kangaroo care helps create those first bonds between the parent and baby. The time you spend giving kangaroo care will be your special time with the baby. Since kangaroo care involves skin-to-skin contact, it makes the baby feel secure and creates a stronger bond with the parents, especially the mother.

  • As mothers spend more time alone with their newborns, kangaroo care strengthens the bond between the mother and the baby.
  • As the baby gets comfortable with the feeding pattern, he starts feeding well, which increases the mother’s breast milk supply[4].
  • As mothers feel closer to the babies, they get more confident while caring for them and feel more in control.
  • As the mother is confident and sure of the needs of her baby, she’s less under stress, which decreases the risk of post-natal depression [4].

How To Do It

  • To start with, wear something that opens in the front so that you can hold your baby directly to your chest.
  • Do not worry if your baby is wearing nothing other than a diaper, as the heat from your body will keep your baby warm and snug.
  • You can hold your baby on your chest in an upright position or let your baby rest in your arms with the head against your chest.
  • Let your baby rest and do not play with him as this is the time to relax.
  • Keep a fixed time for kangaroo care each day, such as before or after a bath, during feed times and always add extra moments of love and bonding whenever you can.

Kangaroo care can be given by both the parents and most NICUs encourage daddies to hold their babies while sitting on a chair. Let daddy hold the baby in the kangaroo care fashion while feeding with a bottle or while you are taking a nap.

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Reference

1. Kangaroo Care for the Preterm Infant and Family. Jefferies, Ann L, and Canadian Paediatric Society, Fetus and Newborn Committee. “Kangaroo Care for the Preterm Infant and Family.” Paediatrics & Child Health 17.3 (2012): 141–143. Print. (Accessed on 26 Aug 2015)

2. The Effect of Kangaroo Care on Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Preterm Infants. 1: Head LM. The effect of kangaroo care on neurodevelopmental outcomes in preterm infants. J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 2014 Oct-Dec;28(4):290-9; quiz E3-4. doi: 10.1097/JPN.0000000000000062. PubMed PMID: 25347107. (Accessed on 26 Aug 2015)

3. Effects of Daily Kangaroo Care on Cardiorespiratory Parameters in Preterm Infants. 1: Mitchell AJ, Yates C, Williams K, Hall RW. Effects of daily kangaroo care on cardiorespiratory parameters in preterm infants. J Neonatal Perinatal Med.2013;6(3):243-9. doi: 10.3233/NPM-1370513. PubMed PMID: 24246597; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4148008. (Accessed on 26 Aug 2015).

4. Kangaroo Mother Care A Practical Guide by WHO http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/42587/1/9241590351.pdf

A pregnancy & babycare writer as well as wellness believer, Debolina is always trying to bring in health and wellness into her family’s, especially her kids’, lives. With a Master’s degree in English literature, she has worked with several mothercare and babycare brands. In her free time, she helps with campaigns that work towards promoting the health and well-being of women and babies. Her experiences as a mother help her talk about busy modern-day parenting and its changing trends.