Kangaroo Care refers to the method of holding a baby, and involves skin-to-skin contact. The baby is usually bare naked, except for a diaper and blanker or clothing to cover his or her back, and is placed in an upright position against a parent’s bare chest. This attachment helps form a secure bond between the parent and the newborn. Kangaroo care has several benefits – here are some of them:
- Helps Baby Adapt
Thermal regulation is a common problem with infants, especially preterm babies. Your baby is used to being in the womb, where he/she didn’t need to regulate their temperature. Since your skin is the same temperature as your womb, baby will find it easier to adapt to her post-birth environment.
- Boosts Baby’s Mental Development
Preemies who receive kangaroo care have been found to have better brain functioning at 15 years of age, than those who had been placed in an incubator. Their brain functioning is comparable to that of adolescents born at term. By stabilizing the heart rate, oxygenation, and improving sleep, their brain is able to develop better.
- Promotes Healthy Weight
Studies have found that skin-to-skin contact dramatically increases newborn weight gain. When babies are warm, they don’t need to use their energy to regulate their body temperature, and can use that energy to grow instead. It is also believed that babies who receive kangaroo care enjoy increased breastfeeding rates, which also promotes healthy weight gain.
- Makes Breastfeeding Easier
By instinct, newborns have a heightened sense of smell. Placing your baby skin-to-skin helps her seek out the nipple and begin breastfeeding. In fact, moms who practiced kangaroo care were more likely to breastfeed exclusively, and went on two breastfeed three months longer than those who didn’t practice skin-to-skin care.
- Reduces Baby Stress
Researchers found that just 10 minutes of skin-to-skin contact helped reduce babies’ level of stress hormone cortisol, and increased the levels of oxytocin, which stimulates the baby’s nervous systems and makes them feel calm and safe. Research also shows that when preterm infants are held chest-to-chest, they react less to heel sticks, a minimally invasive way to draw blood, and a common source of pain among preemies. Also, babies who have less stress sleep better. Preemies who were cradled skin-to-skin slept more deeply and woke up less often than those who slept in incubators.
- Prevents Postpartum Depression
Studies show that kangaroo care can also help in reducing postpartum depression. Activity in the mother’s adrenal axis is negatively influenced by childbirth, and skin-to-skin contact may help minimize the risk of depression. Oxytocin released from skin-to-skin care decreases maternal anxiety and promotes attachment, further reducing the risk.
- Promotes bonding with Dad
From their time in the womb, babies recognize their fathers’ voice. Therefore, skin-to-skin contact with dad helps calm them down and increases bonding between baby and dad.
When it comes to Kangaroo care, the first two hours after birth are most important, in terms of easing baby into the world. After that, continued skin-to-skin contact can still be beneficial, especially for preemies that have low birth weights. Our experts at KIMS Cuddles can help guide you through it all.
*Information shared here is for general purpose Please take doctors’ advice before taking any decision.