Kangaroo Care originated in Bogota, Columbia in 1983 by Neos Edgar Rey and Hector Martinez when they developed the “Kangaroo Mother Care” program to decrease the high mortality rate among preemies. Mums carried their prems in slings all day, every day and the mortality rate fell from 70% to 30%.
It is a method of skin-to-skin contact to promote parent/infant bonding especially for premature babies. It is the practice of holding a premature infant dressed only in a diaper and a hat between a mothers bare breasts or father’s chest, similar to a kangaroo carrying their young. Through contact with their parents skin, the babies are kept warm and allow a close interaction with their parents. Kangaroo Care has not been shown to have any physical risks to the preterm babies. Kangaroo Care can also benefit older prems and full-term babies.
The practice of Kangaroo Care was first introduced to neonatal units to involve parents in the care of their preemies and to decrease some of the stress associated with an infant needing neonatal intensive care.
Parents who have experienced KC have expressed excitement and joy with the practice and many feel like parents for the first time since their infant’s birth. Infants have been observed in a restful sleep state while in the kangaroo position. As well, Kangaroo Care has been found to promote parent/infant bonding, breastfeeding and an early discharge for premature infants.
Policies vary from hospital to hospital but most have a policy which allows babies who are stable, including those less than 1500grams breathing on their own. Some hospitals also allow babies on oxygen or CPAP to be held in a Kangaroo Cuddle.
There are a number of benefits of kangaroo care:
- The baby has a stable heart rate (no bradycardia)
- More regular breathing (a 75 percent decrease in apnoeic episodes)
- Improved oxygen saturation levels
- Longer periods of sleep
- More rapid weight gain
- More rapid brain development
- Decreased crying
- Longer periods of alertness
- More successful breastfeeding episodes
- Earlier hospital discharge.
There are also benefits to the parents which include:
- Feeling close to their baby – Kangaroo Care plays an important role in helping parents to bond with their baby despite the fact that their baby is not home
- Having confidence that they can care for their baby
- Gaining confidence that their baby is well cared for
Kangaroo Mother Care Promotions
Aims to promote the spread and implementation of Kangaroo Mother Care as the standard method of care for all newborn babies, both premature and full term. They aim to give firm scientific facts for medical and nursing professionals, and at the same time to convey these to all parents, to ensure babies get the best care.
Klokánkování / Kangaroo Care
Facebook Page dedicated to Kangaroo Care
Kangaroo Babies: A Different Way of Mothering [Paperback]
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