Benefits of Kangaroo Parenting Care For Premature Babies
Created by Urvashi Shah Updated on Jul 03, 2018
A number of premature babies are born every single hour. After birth Premature babies are often kept in incubators for longer terms, in order to develop like a full term baby. The incubator keeps the baby warm and ensures the breathing and heart rate become normal with time. In third world countries where incubators aren’t common, it was the duty of the parents, especially the mother to hold the child against her bare chest for more than 90 minutes. This way, the mother acts as a natural incubator for her child, who receives the necessary warmth and care in order to develop quickly. This method is referred to as ‘Kangaroo Parenting’, which is now gaining success all over the world.
What Do You Mean By Kangaroo Care?
Kangaroo Care is a form of a developmental care that has benefits for all newborns, especially those who are in the neonatal intensive care unit. Also known as skin-to-skin contact or kangaroo mother care, kangaroo care involves direct contact when a newborn is placed skin-to-skin on mom or dad’s bare chest. The mother or father gently hold their baby, on their bare chest and cuddle them while also talk and sing to them as often. This allows the baby to hear the comforting sounds of the parent’s heart beat and voice, which they become familiar with through frequent kangaroo care. Kangaroo care is inexpensive and highly rated by parents as it helps them bond with their child.
Benefits of Kangaroo Care for Babies
The benefits of kangaroo care to a newborn usually revolve around their feelings of safety, warmth and comfort. Following are the benefits that a preterm baby seeks through kangaroo care-
- Regulate their heart rate, breathing and temperature.
- Improve head circumference growth and weight gain.
- Stabilize their organ function and self-regulation abilities.
- Experience less pain and less crying.
- Facilitate better sleep patterns.
- Avoid infections.
- Take advantage of improved nutrition from mothers’ increase in breast milk production.
- Be more willing to breastfeed.
- Enjoy a shorter hospital stay.
Apart from the above mentioned benefits, there are other long term benefits too that babies procure through this form of parenting. Newborns who experienced kangaroo care in the NICU were more attached and bonded more with their mothers. Babies were more alert and their mothers were more attuned with their infant’s cues and experienced less post-partum depression. Such children showed signs of increased social competence, a positive sense of self and improved cognitive and motor development. These were the signs of a healthy brain of a preterm baby who received kangaroo care.
When to Give Kangaroo Care?
Depending up on your baby’s condition, kangaroo care can be given immediately after birth or soon after the baby starts becoming stable. Even very small babies with major health issues or on a mechanical ventilator can benefit from these short sessions. Once your baby is stabilized, sessions should be at least an hour and anything less can prove to be stressful for your baby. Kangaroo care usually requires a comfortable place to sit so that the baby can be laid on the bare chest of the parent for maximum comfort. However, it can be done standing too, if the parent is comfortable. Many hospitals provide a privacy curtain or screen to make it easier for a parent to undress from the waist up to prepare to hold their child. If a privacy screen is not available, parents may be offered a wrap or a stretchy shirt with a large neck opening that can be worn with space for baby to be tucked inside for privacy. A baby is only dressed in a diaper and placed gently onto the mother’s or father’s bare chest. Any wires or tubes are carefully positioned and a blanket will be secured on the parent and child for warmth and privacy. The nurse will likely take your baby’s temperature several times to make sure they are maintaining their temperature and will probably watch the monitors pretty closely the first few times.
The role of a dad in Kangaroo Care
It is common for a dad to feel like a visitor when the baby is in the NICU as moms spend more time because they have to breastfeed the baby. Kangaroo care allows dads to feel empowered since they can bond with the baby. This also helps dads to learn specific knowledge about caring for the infant, which soon becomes a part of their schedule.
Kangaroo care can be an opportunity for mothers and fathers to do something positive for their precious newborn. Kangaroo care is a great time to talk softly, sing or hum quietly to your baby, or sit quietly and be grateful for the small things.