Kangaroo Care: The magic of a good cuddle for premature babies or any newborn.
I was in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit yesterday and I’m always impacted by how tiny these fragile newborns can be – many weighing a pound or less (imagine the size of a soda can – that’s how small some of the babies we care for can be).
As we traveled through the units I noticed many parents sitting in recliners cuddling with their newborns – the babies out of their incubators and laying skin-to-skin against their mommy or daddy’s chests. Even some of our smallest babies; on ventilators and multiple medical devices; were carefully placed against their parents for skin-to-skin or what we refer to as Kangaroo Care.
Kangaroo care is more than a bonding experience for parents and babies. Research done here at Nationwide Children’s has shown there are significant medical benefits for both baby and mother. For the baby, kangaroo care can stabilize and improve vital signs such as breathing and heart rate, promote weight gain and brain development and can increase deep sleep. And babies that kangaroo care often go home sooner than those that don't. Parents benefit too; not only bonding but helping to decrease the stress that comes with having a baby in the NICU. For mothers, kangaroo care has proven to decrease the risk of postpartum depression and increase breast milk production.
Kangaroo care is just one of the protocols we’re testing and refining to improve outcomes for these tiniest of newborns. We make our protocols available to NICUs across the country to help them improve their results too.
Any baby, not just those in the NICU, can benefit from kangaroo care. We encourage kangaroo care as early and as often as possible for every baby. This video will give you an inside look at how it’s done.
Donna Teach is Chief Marketing & Communication Officer at Nationwide Children's. Her job is to help the hospital feel "connected" – Connected to each other, connected to our patients and their families, referring physicians, the community and the world.
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