Kangaroo Care (or Skin to Skin)

I am the kind of person that feels more secure with the most amount of information and so since I am quickly approaching a pretty major event in my life that is unlike anything I have ever experienced I have been doing a ton of research on birth and to a lessor extent parenting.  One of the things I read about early on after winding out that we were indeed pregnant was Kangaroo Care.  I have not ever heard anything about this practice before and was immediately fascinated.

If you are unfamilure with it as I was I suggest doing some googling but I will do my best to sum it up here as well.  Kangaroo Care was a practice started in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s in third world countries that saw a dramatic percentage of babies born premature and underweight due in part to a lack of food to pregnant mothers.  Some of the babies were lucky enough to be born in hospitals who had incubators but there were so many babies in need f them and so little money available to supply more incubators that the Dr.s would have to put two or three babies in each incubator which caused infection to spread rapidly.  However there were even more babies born in hospitals with out any kind of incubator or not in hospitals at all.  One of the first hospitals to try out Kangaroo Care was one in Zimbabwe in the early 1980’s that did not have incubators and had a 10% survival rate of its premature and underweight newborns, after adopting Kangroo Care they saw a dramatic increase to 50% survival in that same group.  The theory behind Kangaroo Care is that kangaroos give birth to babies that are not quite prepared to be out in the world and so are placed into their famous pouch until they can finish maturing.  During this time they are skin to skin with their mother who helps to regulate their body temperature and the baby has constant access to food.  Indeed many primates often carry around their infants in much the same way.  When this theory was applied to human mothers and babies were placed onto their naked chests they found that the same thing occurred, mother’s skin would rise and lower in temperature to help the baby adjust to a healthy body temperature and that the baby would sort of crawl to the breast when it was in need of nourishment.  Babies also sleep better and when awake appear to be more alert that babies who are not given this care.  Infact in the later stages of pregnancy human mothers will see large blue veins closer to the surface of their skin on their chest just for the purpose of helping to regulate the temperature of the baby when placed there.  While this practice was an amazing breakthrough for premature babes it is also a worthwhile practice for all newborns and is recommended to be done not only immediately after birth but for a while every day for the first few moths of life.  I have read about this being referred to as the fourth trimester where we as parents (Dad can and should practice Kangraoo Care as well) help ease the baby from life in the womb into life in the world.

Isn’t nature amazing?


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