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Kangaroo care in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: Vital tips to skin-to-skin care your premature infant in NICU

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
May 30, 2024 05:39 PM IST

Kangaroo care in NICU is a safe and effective intervention for premature and low-birth-weight infants. Know what it is and how it can be beneficial for preemies

A large number of preterm babies are born in the country every month and this highlights the importance of Kangaroo Care to be initiated right from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Kangaroo care or skin-to-skin care is holding a baby that involves direct and continuous contact between the parent's chest and the infant's bare body and it is beneficial for both premature and full-term babies too.

Kangaroo care in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: Vital tips to skin-to-skin care your premature infant in NICU (File Photo)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Atul Palwe, Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist at Motherhood Hospital in Pune's Lullanagar, shared, “Kangaroo care regulates the baby's heart rate, temperature, and breathing, leading to improved overall health outcomes when it comes to the babies. This close physical contact releases oxytocin in both parties, promoting feelings of love and attachment. Moreover, this practice can help reduce stress levels in both the baby and the mother by creating a comforting environment that mimics the womb experience.”

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Kangaroo care is a crucial practice for preterm babies in the NICU as it fosters numerous physical and emotional benefits. Dr Atul Palwe explained, “The intimate skin-to-skin contact between the baby and the parent helps regulate the infant's body temperature, heart rate, and breathing, promoting optimal physiological development. Moreover, kangaroo care has been shown to enhance bonding between parents and their premature infants, reducing stress levels for both parties. Kangaroo care can aid in stabilizing a preterm baby's blood sugar levels and promoting weight gain. This close connection also aids in decreasing a baby's risk of infection by boosting immunity through exposure to parental skin microbiota.”

He elaborated, “The sensory stimulation provided during kangaroo care can positively impact an infant's neurological development, potentially leading to improved cognitive outcomes later in life. Both fathers and mothers experience lower levels of anxiety during kangaroo care, and babies also experience decreased stress regardless of which parent is practicing it. Mothers who swear by kangaroo care have more confidence in caring for their little ones, increased milk production, and successful breastfeeding.”

Vital tips to Kangaroo Care your infant:

Dr Atul Palwe advised, “Ensure a comfortable and secure position for both the parent and the baby. This can be achieved by placing the baby skin-to-skin on the parent's chest, with their head slightly tilted to maintain an open airway. It's crucial to make sure both parents are relaxed and in a calm state of mind before starting kangaroo care, as this will help create a soothing environment for both the parent and the baby. Maintaining good skin-to-skin contact throughout the session is important. This involves keeping the baby’s bare chest directly against the parent’s skin, allowing them to feel each other’s warmth and heartbeat. Creating a quiet and gentle atmosphere during kangaroo care can also enhance bonding between the parent and baby, promoting feelings of security and trust that are essential for healthy development.”

Keep these things in mind:

When it comes to Kangaroo care, Dr Atul Palwe suggetsed, “Try to spend at least 45 minutes doing Kangaroo care in the NICU. Before caring for the baby, take a shower and clean yourself thoroughly. Check your chest for any rashes or open wounds and manage them with the help of the doctor. It is not a good idea to Kangaroo care when one is having skin infections. It is a strict no-no to use perfume, chemical-laden products, or scented creams before Kangaroo care. Ensure to pump the breast while doing kangaroo care if you are holding your baby for a long time and just ask the nurse in case you require any help. The baby should be wearing only a diaper and the mother should remove their bra while practicing Kangaroo care.”

He added, “When it comes to fathers they should be bare-chested while bonding with the baby. The hospital staff mainly your nurse will help to position your baby on your chest. Once your infant is on your chest, cover the baby with a blanket, then button or zip your shirt. This will help the little one stay warm and in place. Mothers should be comfortable during this process and relax by sitting in a chair with cushions so they can lean back as needed and ensure the baby is comfortable as well. By opting for this simple yet powerful method of bonding with their newborns, parents can provide them with a warm and nurturing start to life. Kangaroo care should be encouraged for new mothers as it will give exceptional results when it comes to the baby's well-being.”

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