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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Kangaroo Care

Kangaroo care is where the mother or father hold the baby in their bare chest, enabling skin to skin contact. The first time the doctor asked us to try it, even though I’d read briefly about it, it was hard to believe it was a good idea. He looked so secure in his incubator, so safe and isolated, how could he possibly survive outside it? He had so many cables and tubes attached to him, I wondered how they could safely move him! The doctor assured me, that it was very good for the baby. He said “you wait, see how his heart rate and breathing are a bit unstable? Within 10 seconds of going on to your wife's chest it will stabilise”. To my surprise he was 100% correct, the monitors showed that within a few seconds of going on my wife's chest his breathing slowed and deepened (good for expanding the lungs), his heart rate settled to a lower number and he rested. My wife also relaxed, up to that point she had had headaches and been quite tense. As soon as he was placed on her chest you could see her visibly relax.

The doctor explained some of the other benefits of kangaroo care. Studies have shown it improves the babies health and improves their overall health. They gain weight more quickly, are discharged earlier and suffer fewer complications. The mothers body will adjust automatically to what the baby needs. If the baby is cold, the mothers body will heat up. If the baby is too hot, it will cool down. It’s a truly amazing experience.

I too got to try the kangaroo care, and though I was a little nervous at first when he settled on my chest it was an amazing feeling as he settled in and fell immediately into a deep sleep, and seeing the monitors showing his heart rate and breathing settle was comforting.

A few times during our stay they stopped Kangaroo Care if he was unstable. Its quite surprising how much it affected us having to stop doing it, its really forges a special connection and its tough to stop for a period of time.

A tip for dads is to do as much Kangaroo care as they will let you, as if your baby is still in the NICU when the baby starts breastfeeding there won’t be much time for you to hold your baby.

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