The touch and feel of a mother’s skin can do wonders in newborn infants. The scent of a mother, the rhythm of her heartbeat and the feel of her skin can cure and comfort her tiny tot more than any medicine. Kangaroo care is a miraculous technique which nurtures and succors the growth of newborn babies. To find out why it is widely popular, we should first understand the benefits of Kangaroo Care.
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Have you heard about the animals classified as Marsupials? Marsupials are mammals whose members are not fully developed at the time of birth. They are carried in a pouch (like opening) on their mother’s belly. They are fed and protected in the pouch until they are completely evolved. The warmth of the mother’s pouch and the emotional touch aid the little ones’ to grow well.
Kangaroos, Opossums, Wallabies, and Koalas are the most familiar marsupials we know.
What is Kangaroo Care?
We, the humans, have eventually adapted this technique of the Marsupials for taking care of our preemie babies. As the preemies are born much earlier than their actual due date some of their internal organs like lungs are not fully developed similar to the marsupials.
Such babies are often underweight and may have one or more health conditions. They may need ventilator support or receive feeds through an IV or need constant monitoring of their vital signs. This is why most of the preemies are nurtured in the NICU during their first few days.
Preemies are referred to as little warriors as they have to fight back and get out of the NICU like any other normal baby. Some NICU babies may win this battle quicker while some may have to fight for a longer time.
But when the preemie babies were cuddled and embraced by their parents like how the Marsupials carry their kids, a significant improvement in their health and growth was observed. Slowly this technique gained popularity due to the results it produced and is now being practiced almost everywhere not only for preemies but for any newborn infant.
Due to the similarity of this therapy with that of the marsupials, it was called Kangaroo Care. It also goes by the names Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) or Skin-to-Skin Care or Kangaroo therapy. There are many benefits of Kangaroo Care for you and your baby which we will be discussing in detail.
Who needs and who should give Kangaroo Care?
This kangaroo therapy is practiced not only for the preemies but also for full-term healthy babies. In addition to supporting the growth and development of your infant, KMC will create a deep bond between you and your baby which will be priceless.
Both father and mother can give Kangaroo care for their baby. When there are breastfeeding or colic issues or cranky moments a mother can do KMC for her baby.
KMC will be more beneficial to fathers, as it helps to build an intense bonding. A mother carries her baby in the womb, but fathers could never experience the feel of carrying the baby in them. This therapy can more or less give that feeling for the fathers. They would sense their connection with the baby and perceive it to be the most wonderful moment in their life.
How to give Kangaroo Mother Care?
Undress your baby except for a nappy or diaper. Keep your baby on your bare chest. You can now cover the baby with a towel. It will be like your baby is cuddling in your pouch listening to your heartbeat.
You can do this skin to skin contact for an hour or more. Continuing this therapy every day for an uninterrupted 60 to 90 minutes will give the best results. KMC can be given at least up to 12 weeks and as long as 3 months.
While giving Kangaroo Mother Care, talk to your baby, sing, caress and pour all your love while holding him / her close to your heart. You will gradually discern the changes this amazing therapy brings to you and your baby.
Benefits of Kangaroo Care
There are incredible benefits of Kangaroo Care that many of you may not be aware of. It will miraculously solve few issues that you and your newborn may be facing. I am sure you will be excited to give KMC to your baby the very next moment you complete reading this. Of course, there aren’t any side effects for this phenomenal medicine. All you will get and give back is LOVE!
But if your baby is in the NICU or is having any notable health issues, it is wise to get the guidance of your medical practitioner before trying this out yourself.
So why wait any longer, let’s delve into the benefits of Kangaroo Care.
1. Strengthens Emotional Bond
When you are giving KMC to your baby you will enjoy your baby’s touch, feel their smell and embrace them with all your love. The baby will also sense the mother’s smell, breathing and speaking rhythm, touch, warmth, familiarity, intimacy, and a secured feel.
The baby will get the same comfort as in the mother’s womb. This skin to skin contact will strengthen your long-term bond with your baby.
As I mentioned earlier, a father will be relishing the most fantabulous moments of his life when the baby cuddles him close to his heart.
2. Improves Health Conditions
While giving Kangaroo Mother care, the close touch and your body heat will help your baby to gain weight, strength and sometimes outgrow serious health conditions.
This warmth a baby gets from his or her mother will be more effective than what he/she gets from a warmer in case of preemie babies and provides almost the same temperature as the womb. So the baby’s effort to regulate his / her body temperature is reduced and that effort is used for ensuring other growth.
There are even more remarkable benefits of Kangaroo care. It helps the baby to adapt to the new environment, regulates the body temperature, stabilizes the heart rate and regularizes breathing. Kangaroo care ensures fewer calories are spent on crying. It comforts colicky babies.
3. Reduces Postpartum Depression
Postpartum Depression(PPD) is very common and occurs in 1 of every 10 women. When you have insomnia, loss of appetite, a sense of irritation or have difficulty to bond with your baby then you may be having postpartum depression.
PPD needs to be treated with counseling or antidepressants. Kangaroo Care has turned out to be one of the best medicines for PPD. There are ongoing researches which are observing a good effect of KMC in mothers having postpartum depression.
If you are a NICU Mom, the separation from your baby will be troubling you immensely. This skin to skin session with your baby will help to fade away the loneliness to some extent.
4. Breastfeeding made Easier
Breastmilk is the nature’s food for your baby. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until six months. Though we understand the significance of breastfeeding, it doesn’t turn out to be easy for every mother.
There could be issues like low milk supply or baby not wanting to feed etc., KMC helps to overcome these obstacles. When your baby is bonding skin to skin with you, a signal is sent to the lactation hormones to produce more milk. Also, the baby may naturally try to latch on.
This is why in many hospitals, doctors advice mothers to give Kangaroo Care within two hours after delivery. It is magic to see the newborn infants move and naturally latch on their mothers.
5. Makes you and your Baby Happier
A baby who is receiving KMC sleeps better. A good sleeping baby is a happy baby. It reduces fuzziness and irritability in babies. Kangaroo care improves brain development.
As for a parent, it strengthens your emotions, makes you feel better irrespective of all the sleepless nights you may be having. It will make you feel like flying up in the sky! Of course, there is no exaggeration here.
KMC, Me and my Babies
Kangaroo care was introduced to me when my twinnies were in the NICU. I could never forget those incredible days of my life. Irrespective of the stress of NICU, it was the Kangaroo care that made me feel stronger, happier and more connected to my babies.
Every day I used to be eagerly waiting at the doors of the NICU for those couple of hours when I could have KMC with my twins.
They were so underweight and tiny, that tears would roll down my eyes when I carried them. They would cuddle into my chest and doze off as I sang and talked to them. Kangaroo care was the main reason for their gradual weight gain.
This topic has been in my mind for a very long time. It was so close to my heart that I felt I shouldn’t write it in a rush.
I would strongly recommend every mother or father out there to give KMC to your newborn baby. Don’t miss those astounding moments of your life. You will not know how it will feel unless you practice it yourself. And Fathers you should definitely give KMC a try.
Happy KMC with your baby!
You are most welcome to share your KMC moments with us. Please write them in the comments section. It will encourage another parent.
Also If you know a friend who is a new parent, please pass this on to enlighten him or her about the benefits of Kangaroo Care.
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Image Credits: Main cover by atomicshark on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA ; Marsupials by Tatters ✾ on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND ; What is Kangaroo Care by Pan American Health Organization PAHO on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC ; Who should give Kangaroo Care by SarieHopkins on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND ; How to give Kangaroo Care by kqedquest on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC