Skin-to-skin contact – or kangaroo care – is a great way to bond with your premature baby. And there are plenty of benefits
Kangaroo care mirrors the way Skippy and his crew care for their young. It’s a simple way to get some important bonding time in for even the tiniest babies and their mums.
What is kangaroo care?
Kangaroo care is the idea of placing the baby on the naked chest of you or your partner by holding your baby chest-to-chest tucked inside your clothes.
Lying your baby on your chest helps him to adjust to the right temperature and it can be a way of bringing the baby close to your heartbeat as it reminds him of being in the womb and has a calming effect.
Your baby would normally be placed on you straight after birth, but with premature babies this often isn’t possible and kangaroo care will be encouraged as soon as the neonatal team are happy your baby is ready.
What exactly does kangaroo care involve?
Kangaroo care is most beneficial with skin-to-skin contact, so it is recommended that baby should just be in a nappy, possibly with a hat on if needed,’ says Jo Birtwhistle, midwife at Tommy’s, the baby charity.
Hearing your heartbeat is a familiar sound reminiscent of your baby’s time in the womb and has a calming effect
Removing your baby’s clothes isn’t vital, though. A hat and a blanket for extra warmth might be necessary for very small babies. ‘Your clothing is then wrapped around your baby to aid bonding and maintain warmth and closeness,’ adds Jo.
How does kangaroo care benefit your premature baby?
Hearing your heartbeat is a familiar sound reminiscent of your baby’s time in the womb and has a calming effect.
‘It is also great for bonding mother and baby and helps to regulate baby’s temperature when being skin to skin,’ says Jo. You will find that kangaroo care is a great step towards breastfeeding, too, helping bring out your baby’s natural reaction to root.
How does kangaroo care benefit a new mum?
The biggest benefit to you as a mum is having baby close to you and forming the life-long bond. Being the one to calm your baby can cement that mother and baby bond.
‘Kangaroo care can help a new mum adjust to motherhood and bonding with her baby, especially if baby is spending their first days in an incubator,’ says Jo. ‘It gives mum the opportunity to nurture and care for her baby.’
Carry on at home
Although kangaroo care is largely associated with premature baby care in the neonatal ward. It is something you can continue once your baby is home – it’ll carry on being a great comfort to you both.