K is for Kangaroo Care
Kangaroo Care is a term for skin to skin care originally recommended for premature babies or newborns with health issues. Mothers have been soothed by holding their babies close for centuries. Now we know that the benefits of holding our newborns are impressive for the first 12 weeks of life, and far beyond! In this blog article I will cover the benefits of this practice to the mother and the baby, as well as how to get started.
Most hospital practitioners and midwives will recommend this bonding experience immediately after delivery, for what they have taken to calling "The Golden Hour." This is the first hour post delivery where they ensure you are left alone with your baby to bond and rest. Whether you are giving birth at home or in a hospital, you can use this technique whenever you want to calm your baby, help them regulate their bodies temperature and heart rate, or feel close to them and bond.
Benefits of Kangaroo Care for Babies
Stabilization of the baby's heart rate, body temperature, and breathing rate
Feel less pain and stress during medical procedures, such as blood draws
Gain weight more quickly
Succeed at breastfeeding
Sleep more soundly
Cry less frequently
Leave the NICU or hospital more quickly
Benefits of Kangaroo Care for Family
Feel comforted in a stressful time
Feel more competent in caring for a fragile baby
Enjoy providing care that only you — no doctors or nurses — can give
Feel a special closeness with your baby
Produce more breast milk (moms only on this one, of course!)
Frequently Asked Questions
Can anyone do Kangaroo Care?
Yes! Mothers, fathers, siblings, and other family members can have this experience and give most of the same benefits to the baby.
Do you have to be laying down and completely undressed?
Nope! You can simply open your shirt and take off your baby's onesie to snuggle on the couch, babywear in a soft carrier, or hold your baby in any upright position. The contact from the parent's chest to the newborn is most important.
Are there benefits after I leave the hospital?
Absolutely. There are many studies showing the benefits are just as important for the first 12 weeks of life. In fact, one study of 10-year-olds even found that they had better thinking skills, sleep habits, and dealt better with stress than children who did not receive skin-to-skin care as infants.
Is Kangaroo Care just for premature babies?
Not at all. Although it began as a practice to aid babies who were struggling to thrive, the benefits are numerous for any infant. Breastfeeding successes, happier babies, and happier moms are nothing to scoff at!
How to Do Kangaroo Care
Sit down comfortably with your baby, open or remove your top and baby's onesie. Removing their diaper is not necessary.
Get comfortable with your babywearing sling or wrap, draw a warm bath, or get settled on the couch or bed.
If you decide to take a bath with your newborn, make sure the umbilical cord has fallen off or is above the water, the water level is safe for baby to breathe while laying on your chest, and that you have help for getting out of the tub. A bouncer with a towel ready next to the tub works too!
Stay in this position for at least 30 minutes for you and your baby to get all the benefits. Enjoy the bonding experience!
Offer a nursing session, bottle, or infant massage, or have a little nap after your snuggle session. Repeat as often as you like!
Affiliate links have been included for some products in this post. For more information on Doula Services in Delmarva, get in touch with me! Watch for the next installment on another pregnancy and motherhood topic next week.