Complications of prematurity are a leading cause of newborn death in Malawi. Despite early adoption of Kangaroo mother care (KMC), coverage remains low and women have expressed challenges in using the traditional wrapper–chitenje. In 2016, a study was conducted to evaluate the acceptability and effectiveness of a customized KMC wrap in improving adherence to KMC practices among mothers.
Mother-baby dyads (301) were randomized to receive either a customized CarePlus Wrap developed by Lærdal Global Health or a traditional chitenje. Enrolled mother-baby dyads were assessed in the KMC ward at 2–3 days after of admission, and then again at 7–15 days post-discharge. Topics covered included skin-to-skin practices, breastfeeding, perceptions of the wrap, and family/community support. Chi square tests were used to assess associations between wrap type and KMC practices. The study received ethics approval.
This study found that a customized KMC wrap is highly acceptable to women and improved skin-to-skin practices in facility-based KMC: 44% of mothers using a customized wrap reported 20 or more hours per day, compared to 33% of mothers using the traditional chitenje. Women using the customized wrap reported being comfortable in keeping the baby in skin-to-skin position more often than women using the chitenje (96% vs. 71%), and they were able to tie on the wrap themselves (86% vs. 10%). At the time of discharge from KMC, more women who used the customized wrap were satisfied with the wrap than those who used the traditional chitenje (94% vs. 56%). The customized wrap did not appear to impact other newborn practices, such as breastfeeding.
This study provides evidence that a customized KMC wrap is highly acceptable to mothers, and it can contribute to better skin-to-skin practices. Use of a customized wrap may be one mechanism to support mothers in practicing KMC and skin-to-skin contact in addition to other interventions.