Kangaroo care means holding your baby, skin-to-skin. You become your new baby’s incubator, with no clothing separating you. Kangaroo care involves having your newborn sleep on your chest (or sleep on your partner’s or friend’s chest when you need a break.) Like a mama kangaroo with her joey, you carry her with you everywhere. You stay connected, heartbeat to heartbeat.
All new babies, especially preemies, thrive from skin-to-skin contact.
And, according to The Independent, there are now at least 1,600 scientific studies that show that this kind of skin-to-skin human touch newborn care has tremendous health benefits to babies. The main benefit is a reduction in infant mortality. This reduction has been seen in every birth facility where kanga care has become routine.
Beside reducing infant mortality, other benefits to kangaroo care include:
- better sleep
- decreased crying
- more periods of alertness
- more rapid brain development
- regularized breathing
- regularized heartbeat
- better weight gain
- improved ability to breastfeed
- earlier hospital discharge
A science-forward approach to the first days of life, as this article in Midwifery Today explores, shows that human babies should not be put in incubators or bassinets.
Don’t let anyone take away your newborn
If your baby is born in the hospital, even the pediatric exam can be done while she is with you, on your chest. No one should whisk your baby away from you. Even if kangaroo care is “against hospital policy,” insist on it. Your baby needs to be with you. Separating you from your baby is bad for you and bad for your baby.
How do you make sure you can hold your baby close?
The best way is to have a home birth or a birth center birth.
If you’re having a hospital birth, find a baby-friendly hospital that practices kangaroo care. Have a midwife, instead of an obstetrician, take care of you during labor and delivery. And make sure all your birth attendants know that your baby will not be leaving your arms.
The bottom line is that there should be zero separation of moms and babies. Kangaroo care leads to healthier, happier babies. Kangaroo carried babies are better able to nurse, gain weight, be alert, survive, and thrive.
Published: February 7, 2020