Last updated on Sep 7th, 2015 at 02:04 pm
Perfect for newborns and premature babies, kangaroo care is lauded as having several benefits for both mom and baby. Learn more about this method of developmental care now.
What is kangaroo care?
Kangaroo care originated in Bogota, Columbia in the 1970s as a method of caring for premature infants in the absence of incubators and other technical equipment. Also known as skin-to-skin contact, it is a form of developmental care that has benefits for all newborns. It involves direct contact where a naked newborn is placed on mom or dad’s bare chest. This creates the illusion of a womb-like environment. Mom or dad may gently hold their baby where they can be rocked, cuddled and hear comforting sounds of their parent’s heartbeat and voice.
The benefits of kangaroo care for your baby
The main benefits of kangaroo care revolve around creating feelings of safety, warmth and comfort for newborn babies. Research shows greater bonding with parents, resulting in calmer and less stressed little ones. This, in turn, has a positive impact on their emotional development and allows them to adapt to their new environment more easily.
Kangaroo care is particularly beneficial for premature babies
It helps to:
- Regulate their heart rate, breathing and body temperature
- Improve weight gain
- Stabilise their organ function and reduces pain
- Facilitate better sleep patterns and boosts the immune system
There are also benefits of kangaroo care for mom
Skin-to-skin contact causes the mother’s body to release more oxytocin (the love hormone). This has a number of benefits for mom including increased breast milk production and reduced post-partum pain. It may also reduce the likelihood of developing postnatal depression and encourages bonding between mother and child. It also helps to lower blood pressure and cortisol levels as well as reduce post-partum bleeding.
Kangaroo care can begin immediately after delivery
Depending on your baby’s condition, kangaroo care can begin immediately after delivery or as soon as they are more stable (in emergency situations). Your nurse or other neonatal professional should be able to give advice about when a baby is ready for kangaroo care and help prepare you for this special time.