Kangaroo Mother Care Awareness Day is celebrated every May 15th, and with good reason. It’s a natural method of post-birth baby care that’s been shown to help premature babies stabilize, promote a close parental bond, and improve breastfeeding outcomes.
What is Kangaroo Mother Care?
While the term “kangaroo care” often makes us think of just holding baby skin-to-skin, there’s a bit more to the Kangaroo Mother Care method than that. When practicing KMC, parents strive to have as much skin-to-skin contact with their baby as possible. For some premature babies, this may require the use of assistive technology.
KMC also includes breastfeeding techniques and improves breastfeeding outcomes by allowing baby to naturally find their way to the nipple when they’re hungry and learn to latch without pressure. This is achieved through natural skin-to-skin contact when holding baby or wearing them in a sling. The care method is also centered around early hospital release when possible, allowing parents to care for their child in the low-stress, comfortable environment at home.
KMC’s ability to stabilize premature babies, some as early as 28 weeks gestational age (3 months premature) was illustrated in a noteworthy 2004 study in which Dr. Nils Bergren observed two groups of premature babies; one group received Kangaroo Mother Care, while babies in the other group were supported in an incubator. While all the babies in the KMC group stabilized within six hours, only half of the incubated group were able to stabilize within that time.
Why does Kangaroo Mother Care work?
Skin-to-skin contact between parents and baby stimulates the development of neural pathways, and allows for a connection that makes baby feel safe and calm. This steadies breathing and heart rate, stabilizing vital signs and preventing the stress that’s caused by separation. When premature babies are removed from their mother in an unstable state, they’re unable to access the benefits that Kangaroo Mother Care can offer, and they may be worse off for it: this 2017 study from the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics indicated that KMC had significant, long-lasting social and behavioral protective effects even 20 years after the intervention in adolescence and young adulthood.
Wearing your baby makes Kangaroo Mother Care a breeze, and there’s plenty of good reasons to continue on with babywearing as they grow. We The Parents have detailed the science behind 23 ways babywearing can benefit you, so take a peek at their infographic to get educated.