Babies born premature often face a myriad of problems and complications such as low birth weight and even death.
World Health Organization, to avert these deaths recommends Kangaroo Mother Care, KMC, for the best outcome for babies and mothers.
Kangaroo mother care, which involves skin-to-skin contact and exclusive breastfeeding, significantly improves a premature or low birth weight baby’s chances of survival. Many premature babies will be stable in skin-to-skin contact after 90 minutes after birth.
Studies by WHO suggests that, when compared with the existing practice, starting kangaroo mother care immediately after birth of a preterm can save up to 150,000 more lives each year globally.
At least 134,600 babies are born preterm in Kenya, with the country recording 13,300 deaths of children under five due to direct preterm complications. The prevalence of low birth weight in Kenya is estimated at 11 percent by WHO and UNICEF.
Studies conducted in Kenya indicates that introduction of KMC has reduce mortality of preterm babies by 40 percent among hospitalized infants with a birth weight less than 2.0 kg when started once they are clinically stable.
However, new study provides new evidence to show a further 25 percent reduction when it is initiated immediately after birth, either with the mother or a surrogate.
Globally, 20 million low birth weight and preterm babies are born each year and contributes 60 to 80 percent of all neonatal deaths. About 4 million babies die each year in the first week of life, KMC could help 25 percent survive.
KMC is done with a baby, who is typically naked except for a diaper, is placed in an upright position against a parent’s bare chest. Both mothers and fathers can do kangaroo care.
A blanket, shirt, hospital gown or robe can be wrapped around you and over your baby’s back for warmth.
As the world gears towards World Prematurity Day on 17th November, a lot of benefits have been associated with KMC for both preterm and mothers.
In fact, studies have found that by holding your baby skin-to-skin, it can stabilize the heart and respiratory rates, improves oxygen saturation rates, better regulate an infant’s body temperature and conserve a baby’s calories.
Further, KMC helps babies have better sleep which in turn helps the baby conserve energy and redirect calorie use toward growth and weight gain.
Indeed KMC decreases crying, increases successful breastfeeding episodes prompting earlier hospital discharge.
Research has also shown that practicing kangaroo care can have a positive impact on the baby’s brain.
On the other hand, parents also benefit from KMC as it improves bonding with the baby, increases breast milk supply and increases parents ability to take care of the baby.