My son just turned 17 months old. Thus, the delivery experience is still a vivid memory. When he was born, they immediately gave him to me to hold, skin-to skin, on my bare chest. I could feel his heart beating, his soft breath and tiny hands. At four days old my son had a low body temperature and was unresponsive. Before being sent to the hospital, I held him against my chest with a blanket covering his back. When he was in the NICU, even with all of the wires and monitors, I practiced kangaroo care again. Along with helping you bond with your baby, kangaroo care is beneficial for your newborn’s health.
What is Kangaroo Care?
According to The March of Dimes, kangaroo care is the skin-to-skin holding of a medically stable infant. The parent will wear a loose fitting shirt or hospital gown and the baby will be placed under the shirt on the parent’s bare chest. Then, a blanket will be placed over the two. In essence, it resembles a kangaroo in its mother’s pouch. In the late 1970s in Bogota, Columbia, “the death rate for premature infants was 70 percent.” Since there weren’t enough incubators for the preemies, the parents practiced kangaroo care to help regulate the babies’ temperatures. The skin to skin contact helped the babies survive. Now many neonatal nurseries use this practice.
Bonding in the NICU
Both of my children were a little over a month early. My daughter stayed in the NICU for one night. Initially, my son didn’t have to stay in the NICU but ended up there with a case of dehydration. For the first day, he was on oxygen and getting a lot of different tests. However, for the majority of his stay, we were able to practice kangaroo care. It can be hard for parents to see their newborn baby hooked up to a bunch of monitors or in an incubator. However, kangaroo care is a great way to spend time with your child and bond. March of Dimes states that “some NICUs postpone kangaroo care until the infant is medically stable, while others use it from birth onward.”
Benefits of Skin to Skin Contact
According to clevelandclinic.org, along with bonding, other benefits of kangaroo care include helping your baby regulate his or her body temperature, heart and breathing rates. In addition, it has been show to improve “oxygen saturation levels,” weight gain and sleep patterns. It also aids in breastfeeding and milk production. Kangaroo care is a term you often hear about in the NICU. However, it is beneficial for full term newborns too.
Skin to skin contact with your newborn baby is a beautiful thing!
More from Melissa:
Pregnant? You May Want to Take a Babymoon
Premature Baby: How to Be Prepared
Inducing Labor: How Pitocin Can Impact Your Delivery