Do you Kangaroo? Five Benefits of Skin-to-Skin

By Jessica Oliveira, BSN, RN, CPN, Education Resource Specialist, Children’s Memorial Hermann Memorial City

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[Kang-guhroo]

noun

A method of caring for a newborn in which the baby is held, clad only in a diaper, against the bare chest of a parent.

synonyms

skin-to-skin, cuddle, nestle, snoozle, snuggle

“Ma’am, would you like to kangaroo with your baby?”

If you’ve never been introduced to the concept of kangaroo care, this question might evoke visions of placing a baby in a fanny pack and hopping around the room. Thankfully, this is not the case.

Kangaroo care, also called skin-to-skin holding, is when a father or mother holds a diaper-clad infant to his or her bare chest. This extremely simple, but very powerful technique was first used in South America as a way to keep premature infants warm and get them home sooner.

Since then, kangaroo care has proven to be very beneficial to both preterm and term infants.

So, why should you kangaroo?

1) Body System Regulation:

Studies show holding a baby skin-to-skin stabilizes the little one’s heart, respiratory and oxygen saturation rates. Skin-to-skin contact also regulates a baby’s body temperature and conserves his or her calories.

2) Enhanced Bonding:

Close contact releases oxytocin in the mother, the “love hormone,” which helps contract mom’s uterus to stop bleeding. Additionally, research shows the benefits for newborns revolve around feelings of safety, warmth and comfort, which positively impact neurological and emotional development.

3) Reduced Postpartum Depression:

A study by the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological and Neonatal Nursing found new mothers who had at least six hours of skin-to-skin contact during the first weeks of life, followed by at least two hours during the following months, reported less depressive symptoms.

4) Better Immunity:

Baby’s skin is populated by the beneficial bacteria from mother’s skin providing protection against infection.

5) Increased Breastfeeding:

Babies who are kept skin-to-skin are more likely to nurse sooner and longer than babies who are swaddled. It also increases breast milk supply.

If you choose to kangaroo, you aren’t alone.  Kangaroo care has become so popular that it has its own “awareness day.”

On May 15, hospitals around the world, including Children’s Memorial Hermann Memorial City and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, will celebrate Kangaroo Care Awareness Day by educating families and encouraging them to kangaroo as often as possible.

Even if you and your baby have been discharged from the hospital, you can still kangaroo… and join us in celebrating Kangaroo Care Awareness Day!  Recent research shows the benefits to both mom and baby continue months after delivery.

Learn more about Kangaroo Care at   http://childrens.memorialhermann.org/kangaroo-care/.

Learn more about women’s and children’s services at Memorial Hermann.

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Tashika Varma