Kangaroo Mother Care 101

Kangaroo Mother Care is a technique used to provide care to premature infants. This method is an effective substitute to placing such babies in an incubator. Kangaroo Mother Care originated from how kangaroos carry their young in their pouches. It is a completely natural method which enhances the bond between mother and child, and has been proven to be more successful than placing the baby in an incubator.

The Kangaroo Mother Care system works by establishing intimacy between the parent and the baby. Usually, it is the mothers who accept the role of the caregiver but increasingly, fathers have also adopted this technique to provide care to their children. The infant and parent share skin-to-skin contact, ideally for 24 hours a day, but even shorter durations are sufficient considering the infant requires medical attention as well. The infant can wear a diaper and is placed on his/her parent's bare chest for skin-to-skin contact. The warmth exuding from the body of the parent promotes psychological and physiological support and acts as a mechanism to strengthen the parent-child bond.

Mothers are typically chosen for this role because of the readily available nourishment in the form of breast milk. The idea is to reduce the need for the infant to be removed from skin-to-skin contact, and with the mother, the baby has access to food and warmth at the same time. Convenience dictates that the infant be supported using some means to his/her mother's body. This could be a gown or other comfortable dressing for the parent.

The science behind Kangaroo Mother Care treatment for premature babies is to provide the same warmth that an incubator provides while improving survival chances through increased attachment between parent and child. As a side benefit, it reduces the burden on health care services, thus allowing for reduced medical expenditure. The close contact with the breathing chest of the parent encourages stimulation and coordination in the infants breathing. The saturated carbon dioxide environment established by the parent's exhalation also promotes the respiratory function in the baby.

Kangaroo Mother Care is an accepted treatment method not only for preterm babies who require intensive care, but for healthy infants who have been denied maternal care for any reason. It is a means of assuring protection and supplication to the young infant, and scientists studying Kangaroo Mother Care are emphatic that babies who are placed in extreme closeness with their care givers also grow up to be more confident and healthy in the future, apart from developing fine motor and cognitive skills. The procedure of bundling the baby close to the parent also imitates the environment of the womb, which the baby is accustomed to. This familiarity enhances the development of the baby by reducing stress levels.

For ideal results, Kangaroo Mother Care should be initiated as close to birth as possible and experts recommend this technique can safely begin two hours after birth and continued till about six weeks at the least.