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What is Kangaroo Care / Skin-to-Skin Contact

In the delicate journey of parenthood, there exists a practice that goes beyond the conventional methods of nurturing and bonding with a newborn – Kangaroo Care.

Also known as skin-to-skin care, and Kangaroo Mother Care, this practice has been proven to offer a plethora of benefits for both premature and full-term infants, fostering a deep connection between parents and their little ones. In this page, we delve into the heartwarming world of Kangaroo Care, exploring its origins, the science behind it, and the numerous advantages it brings to both babies and parents.

Origins of Kangaroo Care:

Kangaroo Care originated in Colombia in the late 1970s as a response to the shortage of incubators and the high prevalence of premature births. Dr. Edgar Rey Sanabria and his team at San Juan de Dios Hospital in Bogotá introduced the method as an alternative means of providing warmth, protection, and nourishment to preterm infants. Inspired by the way kangaroo mothers carry and care for their joeys, the practice involves placing a diaper-clad infant directly on the parent's bare chest.

The Science Behind Kangaroo Care:

At its core, Kangaroo Care is a simple yet profoundly effective method that mimics the natural environment of the womb. The warmth generated by the parent's skin helps regulate the baby's body temperature, reducing the need for external heating devices.

Additionally, the close proximity allows the infant to listen to the parent's heartbeat, syncing with a familiar rhythm and promoting a sense of security.

The physical closeness during Kangaroo Care has been linked to several physiological benefits.

Research suggests that it stabilizes the baby's heart rate, improves oxygen saturation, and aids in weight gain – crucial factors for the well-being of preterm infants.

Moreover, the emotional bonding that occurs during this practice has lasting effects on both the baby's development and the parent-child relationship.

Some Benefits of Kangaroo Care:

  • Temperature Regulation: Kangaroo Care helps regulate the baby's body temperature, reducing the risk of hypothermia, especially in premature infants.

  • Stabilized Heart and Respiratory Rates: The physical contact and soothing environment contribute to more stable heart and respiratory rates, promoting overall cardiovascular health.

  • Weight Gain: Preterm infants undergoing Kangaroo Care often show improved weight gain, a critical factor in their development.

  • Enhanced Breastfeeding Success: Kangaroo Care encourages breastfeeding by promoting the release of oxytocin, a hormone essential for milk production, and fostering a positive feeding experience.

  • Emotional Bonding: The practice strengthens the emotional bond between parents and infants, fostering a sense of security and trust.

  • Parent's Confidence: Kangaroo care enhances a parent's confidence in their ability to care for the baby by fostering close physical and emotional bonding through skin-to-skin contact.

Implementing Kangaroo Care:

Kangaroo Care may be initiated as soon as the baby is born, regardless of whether they are born prematurely or at full term. WHO recommends kangaroo care starting at birth for 24 weekers (learn more).

Parents are encouraged to practice skin-to-skin contact for as long as possible, ideally for several hours each day, and for several months until the baby shows signs of not wanting it anymore. WHO recommends between 8 to 24 hours per day for NICU babies. The process is gentle, allowing parents to participate actively in their child's care while creating a foundation for a strong emotional connection.