What is Kangaroo Care
Kangaroo care is also known as skin-to-skin contact. It is a nurturing method of holding your baby during feeding or at any time. The baby (in only a diaper) is held closely against the naked chest of the mother or the father. Parents have probably been practicing this type of thing since time began, but the name “Kangaroo Care” was first used in 1979. At that time, two doctors in Bogotá, Columbia started using the method of skin-to-skin contact to keep babies warm and healthy due to the shortage of incubators and clean blankets in the hospital facilities they were working in. Since then, much research has gone into the immediate and the long-term benefits, especially for premature and full term babies born with major health concerns.
A doctor working in South Africa performed a study that compared Kangaroo Care to incubator care and the results were astounding. The study clearly proved that infants placed in an incubator immediately after birth were less calm, had more difficulty learning to regulate their body temperature, cried longer, had less stable heart rates, and had more respiratory problems than babies who were held in the Kangaroo method.
Medical research has discovered that the breasts of a new mother would alter their own temperature to accommodate the temperature needs of her newborn. If the baby has a fever, the breast temperature will lower; if the infant is chilled, the temperature will increase to warm the baby. In addition, skin-to-skin contact stimulates the production of breast milk and the babies’ instinct to nurse.
When held against the chest, the heartbeat of the parent soothes the infant and actually regulates certain hormones that are related to stress levels, of both the parent and the infant. It is also believed that Kangaroo Care stimulates brain activity and proper development. Skin-to-skin contact is also beneficial to the natural bonding between mother, father, and infant.