Originally posted on MamaGLOSS
By Maggie Vink, September 3, 2010
Sometimes a mother’s touch trumps technology. Kate Ogg is one mother who knows that first hand.
Ogg, of Australia, gave birth to twins at 27 weeks. She and her husband David received the news that no parent ever wants to hear. While their daughter, Emily, was doing well, their son, Jamie, didn’t survive delivery. Given the chance to say goodbye, Ogg instinctively unwrapped her gown and cuddled Jamie close to her chest. For two hours, Ogg held her son while she and her husband spoke to him and said their goodbyes. Then, little Jamie surprised everyone by showing signs of life.
Direct contact is valuable for all newborns. Dr. Joy Lawn, Director of Global Evidence for Save the Children USA, says that skin to skin contact is recommended for all babies for the first few days. Not only is the touch soothing for newborns, it can also positively impact attachment between mothers and their babies.
Kangaroo Mother Care is an extension of skin to skin contact. “Kangaroo Mother Care is more intensive and we recommend this for preterm babies that weigh less than 2,000 grams (around 4 pounds, six ounces) at birth,” says Dr. Lawn. “It involves skin to skin care continuously for all day every day and often carries on for weeks until about the time the baby would normally have been born.”
Babies that normally would be treated in an incubator may benefit from Kangaroo Mother Care. “Preterm babies are very vulnerable to cold and infections and Kangaroo Mother Care protects against both of these,” explains Dr. Lawn. “Also babies in Kangaroo Mother Care gain weight more quickly and go home from hospital earlier.”
Currently based in Africa, Dr. Lawn frequently works with mothers and babies in impoverished areas. There, Kangaroo Mother Care provides an economical alternative to preterm baby care. But Kangaroo Mother Care isn’t a last-ditch effort only used when no other options are available. “No matter if babies are born in Lilongwe, London or Los Angeles, preterm babies need extra care to survive,” says Dr. Lawn, whose study about Kangaroo Mother Care and its benefits was published in a supplement to the International Journal of Epidemiology. “Kangaroo Mother Care is low-cost and feasible and we now have proof that it is one of the most highly effective ways to give more babies the chance to survive and thrive.”