Exploring Kangaroo Care: Skin-to-Skin Contact for NewbornsAnna
Nothing is more precious than holding your baby for the first time and feeling the gentle embrace of skin against skin. These first moments, and those that follow, are more profound than simply physical contact. It’s a sense of closeness that transcends words.
Skin-to-skin contact, also known as kangaroo care, is a beautiful way to bond with your baby. Even more than that, skin-to-skin care has proven benefits to the health and wellness of both mother and baby.
Today, we are going to take a closer look at this meaningful practice that’s founded on warmth and connection. We will explore the definition of kangaroo care and the role it plays in newborn care and bonding.
Kangaroo Care 101
You can find plenty of kangaroo care definitions online, but at the end of the day, it’s all about skin-to-skin contact.
The Cleveland Clinic explains that kangaroo care is a method of holding your baby to your chest for skin-to-skin contact. Ideally, your baby will only wear a diaper and possibly a hat and socks to help stay warm as they lay on your bare chest.
While this type of physical contact has been a natural practice throughout history, the idea of intentional skin-to-skin time and understanding its benefits occurred in the late 1970s. Doctors realized that this contact could help support baby’s health and growth. It was fondly termed as kangaroo mother care since bundling your baby against your chest resembles young kangaroos crawling inside their mother’s pouch.
When Should You Practice Kangaroo Care?
Kangaroo care can be practiced immediately after birth in the hospital, at home, or in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Skin-to-skin time can be most beneficial in the moments after birth, especially for premature babies. The March of Dimes explains that preterm babies can perhaps benefit the most from kangaroo care, though full-term babies should also get this vital skin-to-skin time.
Kangaroo care in the NICU can be beneficial for both babies born early and mothers. Most hospitals allow for this precious skin-to-skin time, even if a baby needs to use NICU equipment.
Consider doing kangaroo care for at least 1 hour, or however long your health care provider recommends.
Benefits of Kangaroo Care
As we said before, the benefits of kangaroo care extend to both baby and parent. Let’s take a closer look at the kangaroo care benefits.
Giving birth is both emotionally and physically taxing. Kangaroo care can help with a mother’s overall wellness after birth by helping build confidence and connection while also supporting breastfeeding.
La Leche League explains that kangaroo care can help stimulate your hormones that help increase milk production. They share that mothers who pump after skin-to-skin time report getting a higher volume pumped than other pumping times.
Even if you’re not exclusively breastfeeding, kangaroo care can help you keep a steady milk supply.
Kangaroo care also naturally promotes bonding. It’s a quiet time for you and baby to connect with intention.
La Leche League also emphasizes how skin-to-skin time immediately after baby is born can help both parents become more comfortable handling a newborn. It’s completely normal for parents to be nervous holding a very tiny baby! This contact can be a great first step in gaining confidence.
Of course, kangaroo care also offers a myriad of benefits for newborns. There’s a reason it’s a practice that is embraced by hospitals around the globe!
Stabilizing Vital Signs
Skin-to-skin contact can be lifesaving for infants, especially those who are born premature. The experts at the World Health Organization say it best, “Kangaroo mother care is one of the most critical, lifesaving measures to improve the survival prospects and wellbeing of babies born early or small.”
Kangaroo care has been shown to significantly improve survival and health outcomes for preterm and low birthweight babies. It’s beneficial for stabilizing vital signs such as heartbeat and breathing to help support the overall well-being of baby.
Time and time again studies have also shown how kangaroo care can also improve infant weight gain. This is especially important for preterm babies who may be underweight at birth.
Weight gain also supports other important things, such as brain development and the ability to reach milestones.
This close contact can also help with healthy sleep. Physical proximity and warmth can help baby get more restful sleep for longer periods.
This warmth also helps baby regulate their body temperature. If you or baby get cold, you can use a blanket for some additional comfort while still ensuring you’re holding them against your bare chest.
Tips for Mastering Kangaroo Care
Practicing skin-to-skin care is incredibly easy! Here are some tips for making the most of this special bonding time with your little one:
- Dress comfortably: While there’s no right or wrong thing to wear during skin-to-skin time, it’s best to be comfortable. At the very least, you should wear something that can open in front and allow baby to rest against your bare chest.
- Create a calm environment: Be intentional about using this time to bond with baby. Put the phone down or anything that could distract you from your kangaroo time.
- Place baby on your chest: Gently place baby in an upright position with their head resting to one side against your chest. Take care to ensure your skin is clean and healthy, and also avoid using any perfumes or lotions that could irritate baby’s sensitive skin.
- Cover and relax: While baby can wear a hat and socks to stay warm, draping a blanket over their back can add another layer of comfort for you both. Then, sit back and enjoy your time!
Pro Tip: While kangaroo mother care is about the bond between mom and baby, dads can also get in on skin-to-skin time to bond with their little one!
Breastfeeding is an important aspect of kangaroo mother care. Commemorate your journey and this precious skin-to-skin time with custom breastmilk jewelry from KeepsakeMom.