Parenthood is a huge responsibility. Parents strive to have a good bonding with their children. Do you know that bonding opportunities start right off with the birth of the child? And with other scientific advantages. This bonding experience is scientifically termed as Kangaroo Care. So what does it exactly involve? Let’s see
Kangaroo mother care, also known as skin to skin contact, is a treatment used by the medical workers in the cases of preterm underweight babies. Though it also has an integral part in the newborn care routine, it is of special significance for taking care of the premature low weight baby. The skin to skin contact primarily reduces the chances of the baby contracting hypothermia, while under neonatal intensive care. Apart from that, it helps to regulate and stabilize the baby’s cardiovascular and respiratory parameters, lowers the chances of contracting infections from the surrounding and also have a steady weight gain.
Deriving similarities with the specific marsupials, who carry their younger ones around in a pouch, this medical phenomenon thrived in the 1970s, when there was a shortage of neonatal care services and equipment for premature low weight babies. Also, there were trends of high infant mortality rates and large number of infection cases. Originally started for the full term babies, this technique soon gained prominence in premature care techniques.
Requirements and Objectives
The preterm babies who weigh less than 1500 grams and can breathe without any external support are the primary cases requiring KMC. Babies under monitoring or some other specialized medical care are not eligible to get KMC initially. For premature low weight babies, a weight increase rate of 15-20g/kg/day is considered to be ideal.
Under KMC, some parameters like temperature and heart rate are checked regularly. Also, monitoring for any symptoms of apnea, diarrhea, yellow skin, convulsions are done.
Kangaroo care has a primary objective, that is to establish bonding with parents and/or family members. The physiological and psychological connect provided by this technique is very effective. Ideally, the contact must be from immediately after the birth and cleaning of the baby, till the first feeding . The baby would be wearing only a diaper and hat, and are placed over the parents chest for direct skin to skin contact. Apart from warmth, this also provides various simulations, essential for baby’s growth, like the vestibular stimulation from parent’s breathing and chest movements, auditory stimulation for parent’s voice and so on. The baby needs to be held in the fetal position for optimum contact. Usually the mother is the one to provide Kangaroo Care, as she also happens to have to feed the baby. But the father can too provide it. In some cases, even the family members also do it. The babies tend to develop attachment with the caregivers. A ground point is that the process should be as long as possible, and should be least disruptive. Normally, it is recommended for healthy babies for upto 3 months and for premature babies upto 6 months.
Kangaroo Care has been associated with higher levels of parental confidence. Parents, who have done KC are more likely to be sure of themselves while handling the baby. It also decreases the anxiety levels in both the parents and in the child. Infact, it is recommended that babies should be held close to the skin during any medical procedure after their birth, as holding the babies close to skin reduces their pain. Kangaroo Care also provides a chance to the fathers to establish a very good bonding with the baby. This helps the baby recognize the father’s voice and also stabilize various physiological parameters. These children tend to have better sleep trends and cry less. They also tend to have better cognitive growth and in general, a better rate of growth and development in the long run. Another advantage is the smooth feeding process. Skin to skin contact stimulates the breast feeding response in the babies and hence, it becomes easy and less stressful for the mother to feed the baby. Apart from that, it is observed that the mothers who have participated in KMC tend to produce larger quantities of milk for a longer period of time. For the medical institutions too, KMC is an advantageous opportunity. With lower requirements for neonatal care units and expensive equipment, it also provides ample opportunity to educate the first time parents about some basics. And then, there is the advantage of reduced hospital stay.
With all these advantages, Kangaroo Care is here to stay!