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Kangaroo Mother Care - It's Beginnings And Benefits.

Updated on January 4, 2010
Preterm baby in an incubator
Preterm baby in an incubator

According to CBS News.com, over the last 25 years, the number of premature births has soared 30 percent in the United States - to more than 500,000 a year!

In addition to solving the mystery behind such an alarming trend, there is a simple yet effective method that has been found to - at least - increase the chances of a premature baby's survival.

Termed "kangaroo mother care", this simple method has had several benefits for both baby and parents alike.

But what is "kangaroo mother care" (also known as kangaroo care), and what are it's supposed benefits?

* The Origins Of Kangaroo Mother Care.

In 1979, in a hospital in Bogota, Colombia, the survival rate for premature babies was alarmingly low.

Due to overcrowded facilities, a shortage of medical personnel and equipment, and at times poor sanitation, the dangers of cross infections was extremely high. Thereby, making it quite a challenge for doctors to keep premature infants alive.

This was the catalyst that drove a Colombian doctor to come up with a simple, yet effective solution that would help alleviate this problem. Therein lies the birth of "kangaroo mother care."

* How Kangaroo Mother Care Works.

How does this simple process work? When a baby is born prematurely; until it's condition is stabilized; it is cared for by standard neonatal procedures. While this is taking place, the mother receives training in caring for her infant.

Once the baby is deemed sufficiently healthy, the mother literally becomes a living incubator.

Much like a kangaroo mother keeps her joey warm and well-fed in her pouch; the human mother keeps her baby close to her - wrapped vertically between her breasts - and provides her baby with the warmth and nourishment vital for his/her survival.

Hence, the term "kangaroo mother care."

 

* Does Kangaroo Mother Care Rely On The Use Of Special Equipment?

Ingeniously, there is not a need for fancy equipment. The mother simply wears a suitable blouse, or a normal dress with a waistband.

In a children’s hospital in Argentina, specially designed aprons were provided for the nurses (and mothers if they were able) to carry the premature babies next to their stomachs, while allowing them to go about their work or daily activities.

Once the baby gains sufficient weight, both mother and baby can go home, returning to the hospital regularly for vital checkups.

* What Are The Overall Benefits Of Kangaroo Mother Care.

In addition to "kangaroo mother care" being safe and effective, it provides benefits for baby, mother, immediate family members, as well as the hospitals.

Benefits for baby include:

1.) immediate weight gain

2.) do very well health-wise

3.) sleep longer

4.) improved breathing patterns

5.) shortened hospital stays

6.) engenders a greater sense of security (similar to feelings felt in the womb)

Benefits for mother include:

1.) a closer bond between mother and baby

2.) may lessen maternal depression

These same benefits are experienced by other members of the immediate family as well. In Mexico, relatives are trained to become "kangaroo fathers,", "kangaroo sisters," as well as "kangaroo grandmothers," providing mom with a much needed and deserved break.

Benefits to the hospitals include:

1.) requires no special equipment

2.) a minimal to no overhead cost

3.) fewer incubators are needed

4.) much less hospital time is needed

In 2005, UNICEF took note of the fact that with this simple solution, the death rate of premature babies in Tokyo Metropolitan Bokuto Hospital (where this procedure had too been adopted) had dropped, and the hospitalization period was shortened.

With such great success, it's no wonder that "kangaroo mother care," is growing in popularity in developed countries for both premature and full-term babies ( It is estimated that more than 200 neonatal intensive care units practice this procedure today, compared to less than 70 in the early 1990s. A recent survey found that at least 82 percent of neonatal intensive care units use kangaroo mother care in the United States).

No cost, no equipment, just the skin-to-skin contact between mother and child. Simplistic, yes. Potentially life-saving, definitely.

copywrite © 2009.

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    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you GojiJuiceGoodness for stopping by. It's steadily rising here in the states. I think only now we are hearing about a little more.

    • GojiJuiceGoodness profile image

      GojiJuiceGoodness 

      8 years ago from Roanoke, Virginia

      I had never heard this called Kangaroo care. Great hub; thanks for sharing.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Yes habee, it worked very well for my eldest. Although she wasn't a preemie, she did have to spend some time in the NICU, and I truly believe this helped speed up her recovery.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      So effective and yet so simple! Great hub.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      SpecialK3749, you definetly know from personal experience how this wonderful technique works then! I'm glad to hear of your previous success with it, and I hope everything goes well for your new bundle of joy. I'll defintely keep you, your family, and your soon-to-arrive precious one in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks for taking the time to read this hub and leave your personal experience.

    • Specialk3749 profile image

      Karen Metz 

      8 years ago from Michigan

      Very good hub! I have done Kangaroo Care with my premie and it looks like I am going to have another premie this next week, so I will be doing it again. Thanks for the good information.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      KyonSOS23 - thank you for your feedback. I'm glad you liked the hub.

      Cari Jean - I think Kangaroo mother care is the greatest thing. It's great to hear other personal experiences with this simple, yet effective technique. Thank you for stopping by.

    • Cari Jean profile image

      Cari Jean 

      9 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      Both my husband and I did Kangaroo care with our daughter who was born at 29 weeks. It really did make a huge difference in her growth and well-being and it was great for us to be able to snuggle with our tiny little girl.

    • KyonSOS23 profile image

      KyonSOS23 

      9 years ago from Nabon

      Great hub,I lucky met your hub.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      I'm glad they at least gave you a reason for their concerns. I'm doing some additional research as of now to see if there is some sort of listing regarding what United States hospitals participate in this. Hopefully I'll be able to do another hub about, making it easier for other parents who opt for this procedure. I hope everything turns out well for your precious little one and your family.

    • profile image

      jimrox 

      9 years ago

      Thanks Veronica. The reason they gave for not wanting me to hold him except during his feedings, was because they said it would take energy from him if I held him. And as a result it would take him longer to suck well, gain weight and be released from the hospital. We were not in Indiana where we planned to have the birth, since he was early, so we had no time to research the policies and find a hospital that would honor our wishes. So we had Doctors and midwives that we were meeting for the first time when he was born.

      I will continue to look.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks jimrox for stopping by. I'm so sorry to hear about your experience. Since I had never heard of this until my daughter was born, it was at this time that I was first introduced to this procedure. I've done some research on the subject and there are several hospitals that have participated in the studies. Whether they are still incorporating this practice can only be determined if one personally called and enquired. I'm not sure why holding your baby was discourage, (although recent news reports have reported that due to the swine flu, many hospitals are eliminating close contact with infants in the NICU, whether they be preemie or experincing other health related issues out of fear of contamination) but my best advice is to check with your local hospitals to see if they practice Kangaroo Mother Care or not. I never faced this situation personally since both my children were born in the same hospital. I hope all goes well for you and your family. And I'll continue to do more research on this subject. I hope this was of some help.

    • profile image

      jimrox 

      9 years ago

      How does a person go about finding these hospitals in the US. I don't want to repeat my experience with my preemie baby that I had 2 months ago in a Phoenix hospital. They actually discouraged holding my baby and he only had an NG tube...no vent etc.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thank your Deborah-Lynn for your feedback. I just try to write about what's dear to my heart. I'm glad that what I write is bringing something to the Hub Pages forum. I'm glad you like it.

    • Deborah-Lynn profile image

      Deborah-Lynn 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Hi Veronica, loved this Hub on Kangaroo Care, it just makes sense all the way around. Your topics are always so unique!Just keep on going the way you are my friend, we are awaiting your next....thanks! Deborah-Lynn :)

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for that information sarovai. That statistic is really high! It's no wonder that measures are being taken to combat this extremely sad situation!

    • sarovai profile image

      sarovai 

      9 years ago

      Hi veronica,

      500,000 premature babies dies every year, that too in U.S. unbelievable.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      My eldest wasn't premature, but she had to spend time in the NICU for fluid on her lungs (I had her via C-section)and in addition to her being born on a cold month, we were concerned about her being susceptible to upper respitory illness. The nurses really encouraged this hands on approach once she was stable enough. I have to say, In addition to promoting a close bond between mother and baby, it seems to really aid in the baby's recovery and survival rate. My daughter is now a healthy four year old toddler who is growing like a weed everyday.

    • profile image

      wordscribe41 

      9 years ago

      Did you have a premature baby? My sisters twins were TINY. This is such a cool idea, never heard of it, but it makes so much sense.

      Laura

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you so much wordscribe41. This subject is very dear to my heart. I've read some of the other nominees work and they turned out some great work as well.

    • profile image

      wordscribe41 

      9 years ago

      Fabulous, Veronica. Congratulations on the nomination, well deserved. I've casted my vote for you.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you herald daily. I really think that we need to go back to the basics and maybe we would all be the better for it. Medical advancements have taken great strides in making our lives better, but sometimes it's better to revert back to the basics.

    • Herald Daily profile image

      Herald Daily 

      9 years ago from A Beach Online

      This is a very cool idea. I wonder if women used to keep their little babes next to them way back in the old days. Often times, the simple methods were discarded long ago for more modern ones.

      Great hub, Veronica. Best of luck in the HubNuggets contest!

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you so much pddm67. It;s a great method that has found great success. So simple, yet very effective.

    • pddm67 profile image

      pddm67 

      9 years ago from Queens, New York

      What a great hub! This is the first I've ever heard about it and it sounds like a wonderful method. Kudos!

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you, congrats to you too. I loved your hugnubbet wannabe nomination by the way!

    • Leslie L. Sanders profile image

      Leslie Lee Sanders 

      9 years ago from Queen Creek, Arizona

      Congrats on the nom!

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you Jerilee Wei for your feedback. I think slowly but surely it's catching on. I agree with you that touch is everything. It's so healing. I notice that even when I'm not feeling my best, a simple hug from my children, or touch from my husband makes me feel much better.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Well that is certainly a suprising and interesting method, although I don't see American physicans doing it in most cases with premies. Would only work with the less premature births.

      Touch in my opinion is everything though.

      That's only because many of them have severe problems like wet lung disease, immature lungs, etc. Great hub!

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      thank you for your feedback! I'm glad you liked it.

    • profile image

      ralwus 

      9 years ago

      Kewl! thanks

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you, thank you, thank you! I appreciate the acknowledgement. Here's to the other nominees as well. Hands down, this is my favorite hub!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Announcement: This hub is a HUBNUGGET Wannabe! Let's cheer for Veronica! Go Veronica Go! Go Veronica Go! Go, Go, Go!!! Do check it out: http://hubpages.com/hubnuggets10/hub/Newsflash-10-...

      I love this! The warmth of the human body and touch is indeed healing. Great hub Veronica. :)

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you so much rmcrayne. I'm on my way to check your hub out right now.

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 

      9 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Well done Veronica and congrats on your HubNuggets nomination.

      You can find pictures of parents in NICU doing Kangaroo Care at Flickr.com. I found the pics searching Premature Infants NICU.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      thanks creativeone59 - although my daghter was not preterm, she did have to spend some time in neonatal care. It was during this time that I learned about this method.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      9 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Another good hub, where do you get this stuff?. thanks for sharing. creativeone59

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