Complications arising from pre-term birth are a direct cause of about 29% of new born deaths globally. Most preemies are born between 33 and 37 weeks. In order to survive, a very high level of care has to be provided to the infants. This care must pay close attention to feeding, warmth, early detection of problems and infections and, jaundice. Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is an important part of this care. Premature birth is a risk factor for poor outcomes if babies are not given the range of care and support that they may need, and in some cases what has made the difference has been KMC.
Children born before 33 weeks and weighing less than 1.5 kilos are at the greatest risk. They can suffer from breathing problems however still may be able to feed well and self latch for breastfeeding during KMC. A low birth weight is any weight that is less than 2.5 kilos. It can be caused by a pre-term birth or retarded growth in full-term babies. There is no miracle answer to prevent low birth weight and pre-term births however you know as a Mom that you can do Kangaroo Mother Care with your baby to help them grow and develop. Research shows that providing Kangaroo Mother Care to pre-term and/or low birth weight infants greatly reduces newborn deaths.
KMC involves caring for low birth weight, especially pre-term, babies by strapping them to the mother’s chest skin-to-skin. The child is held in an upright position. During KMC care, the baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels become more stable since they are calmer and have lower levels of stress. Three randomized trials suggested a 51% reduction in mortality rate when Kangaroo Mother Care has been practiced with pre term babies.
The beauty about Kangaroo Mother Care is that it is simple, and effective. Furthermore, it doesn’t cost anything extra to implement which makes it viable in low income situations. In addition to the obvious mortality benefits, Kangaroo Care provides a loving contact between parent and child which establishes a life long emotional attachment for both.