Kangaroo care is often defined as, laying your baby on your bare chest (if you’re the father) or between your bare breasts (if you’re the mother), it is also described as skin-to-skin care because your baby’s bare skin is touching your bare skin. It is then common for the nursing staff to then cover you both with a warm snuggly blanket for a great little cuddle time. So why is this so important for a preemie?
Well, it's not just for baby. Kangaroo care is great for both you and your baby.
When a mother is kangarooing, the infant typically snuggles into the breast and falls asleep within a few minutes. The breasts themselves have been shown to change in temperature to accommodate a baby body's changing temperature needs. In other words, the breast can help better regulates an infant's body temperature, and conserves a baby's calories.
The extra sleep that the infant gets snuggling with mom and the assistance in regulating body temperature helps the baby conserve energy and redirects calorie expenditures toward growth and weight gain. Being positioned on mom also helps to stabilize the infant's respiratory and heart rates. Finally, research has also shown that kangaroo care results in positive effects on brain development.
Kangaroo care may help your baby:
- Stay warm
- Keep his heart and breathing regular
- Gain weight
- Spend more time in deep sleep
- Spend more time being quiet and less time crying when he’s awake
Kangaroo care may help you:
- Reduce your stress level
- Help build your confidence to take care of your baby
- Give the close connection you have been looking forward to
- Help with breastfeeding
Some babies can start kangaroo care soon after birth and some babies may need to wait. You can do kangaroo care with your baby even if he’s connected to monitors or other equipment.
The ability to do Kangaroo Care will be a definite highlight day in your NICU journey. I think there is a Milestone Card to capture this wonderful moment.
For more information please visit the March of Dimes.