What is Kangaroo Care and How Can It Save a Baby’s Life?

Kangaroo care, also known as skin-to-skin contact, is a method of caring for newborn babies. The technique, named after the way certain mammals carry their young in a pouch, was developed in the 1970s in countries where care for the infant requiring incubators was not available.

Kangaroo mother care is done by closely holding the baby to the chest and involves direct skin contact between the baby and the mother. The baby is held in an upright position. This kind of care is proven to be good for premature
babies and low birth-weight babies, whose chances of survival are greatly enhanced.

Having the mother and the baby together without any separation, just after the baby is born, has changed the way neonatal care procedure is practiced.

What is Kangaroo Care?

Beginning kangaroo care straight after the baby is born has many benefits and has been shown to save thousands of lives each year in comparison to doing it only after a baby is considered to be stable. Skin-to-skin contact between baby and mother and exclusive breastfeeding soon after birth greatly increases the chance of survival of the baby.

Keeping a baby in an incubator to stabilize it can take several days, about 3 to 7 days. Whereas, kangaroo care has shown positive results of being many times more effective and is highly recommended by the World Health Organization.

Benefits of Kangaroo Care for Babies

A mom holding her baby close to her chest is an experience of intimacy for the baby and helps to bond between the two. This kind of good bonding has medical benefits as well.

The baby is naked, except for a diaper, and placed against the bare chest of the mother. The two remain this way for a few hours, with a blanket or hospital gown covering them.

The mom’s close contact with the baby helps her to lactate better, giving the baby a chance to have his or her full feed. The baby feels secure and develops an improved heart and breathing rate which are the vital signs of healthy progress.

Over time, the baby gains weight and shows lower stress levels by crying less. The baby’s immunity improves and as a result, there are fewer infections and sicknesses. The alertness of the child increases as there is better brain

How Kangaroo Care Helps You

Kangaroo care is beneficial for the parent as well. The mother is less anxious about the health of her child when she is holding her baby close to her, rather than the baby being in an incubator or warmer. The mother grows in confidence
about being able to care for the baby and the closeness automatically causes the breasts to fill with milk.

When Can You Start Kangaroo Care?

The sooner kangaroo care is initiated, the better will be the benefits for the baby. As a mom, if you are not sure how to begin or what to do, ask the hospital nurse for help so that your baby is placed in the right position, and you are
confident and comfortable.

The longer you hold your baby, the better it is. So an hour or two initially for twice a day is good. During this time the mother should not engage in watching any television or talking on the phone as it should be a time of quiet.

Feeling the warmth of the baby, being aware of the baby’s breathing, and focusing on the closeness and the feel of the baby’s skin will make the mother bond with her child even more deeply. Talking or softly singing to the baby can help the baby’s brain development.

Findings about Kangaroo Care

Clinical results have shown that kangaroo mother care when started immediately after a preterm or underweight baby is born dramatically increases survival chances. The mother and baby being kept together with no separation at all will drastically change the way baby care for underweight or small babies are done.

Kangaroo care needs to be started at the earliest. It should be recognized by all that the best method of nurturing the newly born small baby is by skin-to-skin proximity with the mother.

It has already been seen that kangaroo care has reduced the infant mortality rate by 40% for babies born having a weight less than 2 kilograms once the baby is stabilized clinically. When initiated immediately after the baby is born
there is a further 25% reduction in the mortality rate.

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