It’s got to be a tough transition for your newborn, from the warm, dark womb to the cold, sterile and bright outside world. One way to ease the shock of that transition is skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby immediately after birth, or what’s called Kangaroo Care.
Kangaroo Care did not originate in Australia but in Bogota, Colombia, in the 1970s and 1980s when the death rate of premature infants reached 70 percent and doctors were desperate for solutions. When mothers started holding their infants closer for longer periods of time, the babies not only developed fewer infections, but survived and thrived.
Today, Kangaroo Care is widely accepted as a way for mothers and fathers to bond with their newborns, boost successful breastfeeding and encourage so many other health benefits—especially for premature infants who need extra help regulating their body temperature, breathing and heart rate so they grow. Unlike babywearing, Kangaroo Care requires skin-to-skin contact.
Here are three tips for mastering Kangaroo Care immediately after birth and when you take your precious bundle home.
You probably feel overwhelmed with all that you need to do for your new baby and at home (especially if you have another child or children). To make Kangaroo Care effective, find a comfy chair or couch for you and your baby, take five deep breaths and relax.
With skin-to-skin contact of Kangaroo Care, your baby can feel your quickened heartbeat. Positive feelings will flow both ways if you begin your Kangaroo Care with a good attitude and a calm countenance.
Here’s how it works at the hospital, and then at home:
- Hold your baby skin-to-skin, then breastfeed.
- Get comfortable in a seated position, remove your bra and open whatever clothing you have on above the waist; your baby will have only a diaper and a cap and may be held in place by a receiving blanket.
- Position your baby between your breasts, with his head turned to one side.
By relaxing and enjoying this special time with your baby, both of you will benefit: You are likely to produce more breast milk, and your baby will be soothed by contact with his favorite person.
2. The more time you can devote to Kangaroo Care the better.
From that first hour in the hospital or birthing center onward, you can be in Kangaroo Care any time during your hospital stay and when you go home.
Kangaroo care means when you are awake and able to hold your baby safely, you should do so:
- When your baby is fussy or can’t fall asleep
- When you’re having difficulty breastfeeding
- When your baby is getting vaccinations or injections
By engaging in Kangaroo Care as often as possible, you become more confident in caring for your baby. It also helps your infant’s brain development and your baby won’t get sick as often during the first six months.
3. Let Dad take part in Kangaroo Care, too
Letting fathers take part in Kangaroo Care helps empower them to be a significant influence in their newborn’s life—especially if the baby is a preemie and is hooked up to tubes in an incubator.
At home, fathers can provide Kangaroo Care while Mom showers or sleeps, or to help calm a fussy baby. This close contact helps a father bond with the baby and become more attuned to an infant’s needs, and helps a mother recover more quickly by letting her get more sleep.
Intrigued by the benefits of Kangaroo Care? Before the birth of your baby, talk with your care providers about the best way to make Kangaroo Care happen, and tell your family and friends that after your baby’s birth, he won’t be passed from person to person because he will get cold.
Your health needs are important to the physicians at Fisher-Titus Medical Center. Contact us today to make an appointment with a specialist in our Women’s Health department.