Babies in the NICU seem so fragile and delicate, parents are sometimes afraid to pick them up or hold them. But whenever possible, holding your tiny premature or critically ill baby is good for both you and your baby. One of the easiest ways to do this is through kangaroo care, the simple method of holding your baby against your bare chest for skin-to-skin contact.
According to recent medical research there are many benefits that "skin-to-skin" contact provides for moms, dads and babies. Kangaroo care lets you experience a natural closeness that helps you bond with your baby. It can also help to soothe your baby, and for moms, it's a good way to increase breast milk supply.
How it works
Human touch is a very powerful sense and plays a large role in your baby's development. There is even research to show that it helps to heal. That's because touch begins at the nerve cells in your baby's skin. These cells are very sensitive and respond to even the slightest touch. Each touch sends out signals, telling all parts of your baby's body to make chemicals called hormones. The hormones:
- Improve blood flow and breathing
- Decrease stuffy nose, gas and colic
- Improve weight gain and growth
- Help sleep times become deeper and longer
- Provide increased feeling of security, love, caring and trust
Dads can kangaroo too!
Both mothers and fathers can give kangaroo care. Simply wear a layer of clothing that opens down the front, and sit in the comfortable seating provided in each NICU room. Don't bother to dress or wrap your baby in a blanket – all that's needed is a diaper because your baby will stay warm next to your body. And if it is chilly, we'll provide a soft blanket to assure your baby's comfort.
You may notice that your infant tolerates these holding sessions much better when they are not preceded by undressing, diaper changing, temperature taking, dressing again, and swaddling in blankets. Snuggle your baby upright on your chest, or lay your baby with her head against your chest. Of course, our nurses are always available to help you get situated and comfortable.
Benefits of kangaroo care for your baby
- Helps control body temperature
- Decreases stress, pain and discomfort
- Helps him/her relax
- Improves response to different sights and sounds
- Increases and improves developing nerves and muscles
Benefits of kangaroo care for mom and dad
- Helps to develop confidence in reading your baby's signals
- Improve bonding and attachment
- May increase mother's milk supply
- Can help decrease postpartum depression
- Gives father's a way to be involved at a deeper level
Kangaroo care is a nice way for you to get acquainted with your baby in the NICU. The feeling of your baby's warm skin against yours is a special closeness and comfort for you both. At a time when so many people are caring for your baby, kangaroo care provides special moments of belonging that only you can experience with your baby.