Kangaroo care for preemies
Skin-to-skin contact with mom and dad helps premature babies stabilise.
(©Little StepsTM)
A premature baby will benefit from spending as much skin-to-skin time as possible with his or her parents. This approach, known as Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is used in many hospitals, allowing the baby to benefit from it as soon as it can be moved out of an incubator and should ideally even be used for ventilated babies.

The baby is placed on the parent’s chest, skin to skin, in a curled-up upright position. Her head is supported with a piece of cloth to keep the airway open.

How Kangaroo Mother Care helps

  • KMC helps the premature and low-weight baby in a number of ways. It:
  • Provides protection
  • Improves the outcome and reduces length of hospital stay
  • Helps the heart rate and breathing stabilise
  • Improves weight gain
  • Improves the immune system
  • Regulates temperature
  • Reduces pain by increasing endorphins
  • Encourages breastfeeding, even when feeding is through a tube
  • Reduces crying even six months later.

Parents also benefit from doing KMC as it:

  • Improves bonding and helps adjust expectations
  • Synchronises sleeping patterns
  • Lets parent move around and have free hands while still giving the baby comfort and care.

Kangaroo Mother Care can be continuous, in which the baby is wrapped to the mother’s chest every day and night, as long as his or her condition allows. In this case the baby is only taken away for the mother to bath or go to the toilet. If this is not possible, KMC can also be practised intermittently for a few hours a day.

Most parents will carry on with KMC once the baby is strong enough to be taken home.

This is an extract from Prematurity: Adjusting your Dream (Little Steps), available from littlesteps.co.za at R275.

Did you use Kangaroo Care for your premature baby? How did it work out for you?

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