Mothers have been cradling their infants to their chests for centuries, so kangaroo care is not an entirely new concept. It has helped soothe parents and babies for many years. Find out how kangaroo care can help your baby in the NICU.
Closeness in the NICU
When you cannot bring your baby home immediately after birth because they need specialized care in the neonatal intensive care unit, it can be frustrating and frightening at the same time. You want them in the lovely nursery you have probably prepared. Know that there’s no “normal” way to feel and many families who have had a baby born prematurely or sick share similar feelings.
You crave to hold your baby, and if you are able, performing kangaroo care will help both you and your little one. Kangaroo care simply means skin-to-skin. Place your baby on your bare chest between your breasts directly touching his or her bare skin. Dad can do the same by allowing the baby on his bare chest. It is beneficial for all.
Kangaroo care can help your baby in the first few days, weeks, and months of life, plus it’s an opportunity to bond with your child.
Benefits for Baby
Holding your baby skin-to-skin will help keep them warm and comforted by your heartbeat. Your body temperature will regulate theirs. If they are cold, you will help them stay warm, and vice versa. Kangaroo care stabilizes their heart rate and breathing pattern. It also improves oxygen levels and helps them sleep better and longer.
This comfort can decrease crying and improve breastfeeding time. Cuddling comforts everyone.
Benefits for Parents
This may be the emotional support you have needed.
Your benefits of kangaroo care can include the following:
- Better bonding and feeling of being close with your baby
- Increases milk supply
- Building confidence in caring for your newborn
- Increasing sense of control
Some Dos and Don’ts
You should have clean and healthy skin with no perfume, rashes, open lesions or cold sores. Try to maintain 60 minutes per kangaroo care time.
Concentrate only on your baby and his/her comfort. Put away your cell phone and avoid all distractions as this can be a safety issue.
Ask the NICU care team about their kangaroo care policy and let them know if you are having any trouble with kangaroo care or have questions.