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Kangaroo Mothercare and Breastfeeding
“There is nothing as powerful as a mothers love and touch”
There exists an invisible bond between the baby and the mother- let it be when the baby is in womb or when she has the baby in her arms post birth. A practice to accentuate this bond further is known as the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC).
KMC refers to the practice of providing continuous skin to skin contact between the mother and her baby. There are three components of kangaroo mother care (KMC) – skin to skin, exclusive breastfeeding, and supporting both the mother and the baby. The support can be in any form- psychological, mental, emotional or physical. The practice aims at formulating a standard care protocol for the babies- both preterm and full term. The World Health Organization recommends KMC for the routine care of newborns weighing 2000 grams or less at birth.
During the KMC, a premature baby is held in an upright position on her mom’s bare chest encouraging tummy to tummy contact as the baby is placed between the mother’s breasts. The baby’s head is adjusted so that he is positioned close to her mother’s heart.
It is advised to practice Skin-to-Skin for 60 minutes continuously during the first 12 weeks and beyond. KMC immediately after birth is found to be a golden hour for the baby. This is the time when the nursing instinct in the baby leads the way to an early initiation of breastfeeding.
Research shows that skin-to-skin contact stabilizes heart rate, respiratory rates, improves oxygen saturation, regulates a neonate’s body temperature and help conserve energy for the new born. Better weight gain, improved immunity, enhanced motor and cognitive development of the infant are also some important benefits of KMC.
Skin to skin can also be practiced with the baby and the father. In case of caesarean births, the father can practice in skin-to-skin contact till the mother recoups.
Benefits of KMC is not only limited to newborns but the parents too derive benefits out of it. It promotes bonding between the baby and the parents, enhances parental confidence, and helps to streamline breastfeeding practices. A mother feels more confident to nurture her baby and in turn experiences reduced stress levels.
Therefore, KMC is a practice that ensures an overall development and care for the neonate, thereby reducing mortality rates for the preterm infants all across.