May 15th is International Kangaroo Cuddle Awareness day

On the celebration of this great practice, we decided to share some information.

Kangaroo Cuddling was pioneered in Columbia in the 1970s by a pediatrician who was looking for a way to keep premature babies warm in an area that was too poor to have incubators.

In past years many paediatricians believed premature babies needed to be isolated to conserve their strength.  Now inspiration has been taken from kangaroos and other marsupials that nurture their young in a pouch. Kangaroo care has now become much more than a way to keep babies warm and multiple studies have proven that it has a number of benefits for parents and for babies (see links below or view a one page PDF).

Once babies are well enough, they are taken out of their incubators and placed on their parent’s chest, usually under their clothes, so the baby gets skin-to-skin contact and can hear the parent’s heartbeat.  This closeness provides a warm and soothing environment and helps the parent feel closer to their baby.  Some studies suggest that kangarooing may result in physical benefits, fewer breathing problems, less energy-wasting fidgeting, faster weight gain and a more constant body temperature.  

A lot of babies seem to improve when they’re being held by their parents.  They’ve been listening to these voices in the womb and even the smallest babies recognise their families, and babies who are happier tend to do better.  It is also suggested that talking to your baby while kangaroo cuddling is especially good as the vibrations through your chest assist.  

NB. If you have a very young or sick baby, ask your nurse if you baby is ready for kangaroo cuddles yet.

 

The benefits of Kangaroo cuddles are so great and The Neonatal Trust has played a part in providing maternity chairs in a number of NICUs and SCBUs across New Zealand. Right at the moment we are looking at doing more (watch this space).

For details of the history and the benefits of kangaroo cuddles, check out the below links. Also, if you missed this great story from earlier this year, make sure you watch the video from the story:

Mum and Dad’s hugs bring baby back to life
Five years ago Kate Ogg was in labour with twins – she was just 26 weeks pregnant, and these were her first children.  Tragically, after labour the Queenslander was told that her baby girl Emily was doing fine, but that her baby boy – Jamie – had passed away.  On that day the doctors said that there was nothing they could do, but Jamie is now alive and a happy five year old boy. Read more and watch the video here

Other articles here:

http://journals.lww.com/advancesinneonatalcare/Fulltext/2008/06001/Kangaroo_Care.1.aspx

http://preemies.about.com/od/parentingyourpreemie/a/Kangaroo-Care.htm

http://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/the-loving-touch-is-critical-for-premature-infants

http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/10/kangaroo-mothers-and-the-power-of-touch/