It has been almost nine months that you have been waiting to meet your precious baby and it is finally time for delivery! This can be a frightening time for new mothers and fathers, especially if baby is early or there are complications with the birth. These things can leave new parents feeling stressed and anxious over their ability to care for their baby, especially if the baby is preterm and in need of extra care in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). One way to help mothers to reconnect and feel needed and increase their confidence is to practice kangaroo care.
What is Kangaroo Care?
Kangaroo care is a type of developmental care that benefits both mom and baby. It is also known as skin-to-skin contact or kangaroo mother care. In kangaroo care the naked (other than a diaper and probably a hat) newborn is placed on the mother’s bare chest, usually while she is propped up on pillows to help baby stay in a mostly upright position. It is a time of bonding for both mom and newborn. It is not a time to play with your baby but to allow your baby to rest.
Many hospitals will provide a privacy screen or curtain to help the mother feel comfortable.
Benefits for Baby?
Kangaroo care has many benefits for the baby. Most of the benefits center on the fact that the baby feels safe, and is warm and comfortable which reduces stress for the newborn. This reduction in stress also facilitates their development.
Being placed on a mother’s breast helps babies to conserve calories in that the mother helps them to stay warm and regulate their temperature. This allows for more weight gain, which is important especially for preterm babies.
Other researched benefits include regulation of breathing and heart rate. Kangaroo care also helps babies to develop better sleep patterns and have lower rates of infections. Doing kangaroo care can also end up shortening the hospital stay of both mom and baby.
Benefits for Mom
Mom also benefits from engaging in kangaroo with her newborn. One of the most important benefits is simply bonding with baby. It increases confidence for caring for baby and can help the new mother feel a little more in control of her situation. If planning on breastfeeding, kangaroo care is known to help increase milk supply. Kangaroo care also reduces rates of depression after having baby.