The difference that premature baby kangaroo care compared to no-contact care can make in a preemie's life is both remarkable and extremely important to an infant's development.
What Is Kangaroo Care?
Kangaroo care describes the practice of skin-to-skin contact between a mother and her premature infant. The preemie is clad only in a diaper and hat and is placed on his mother's stomach, between her breasts, for about two to three hours of contact. During this time the infant can hear his mother's heartbeat and experience the warmth of her body. This carrier method is meant to imitate a marsupial.
Without kangaroo care, an infant is usually confined to an incubator. It's not difficult to see why the cold impersonal environment of an incubator is less inviting than a warm loving mother. Many hospitals promote kangaroo care as a superior technique for rearing preemies into good health.
The Benefits of Kangaroo Care
First and foremost, there are immediate benefits for the mother of a premature infant. Once her baby is born prematurely, watching her child being shuttled off to the neonatal intensive care unit can encourage a tragic emotional state. Incubators literally place a wall between a mother and the child she desires to hold. So, two to three hours of skin-to-skin contact with her preemie will provide some solace for an infant's mother as well as her child.
Secondly, nurturing physical contact has proven to aid an infant's emotional and psychological state. You can read exact details regarding the benefits of kangaroo care at ClevelandClinic.org, but the overall consensus is that infants enduring premature baby kangaroo care compared to no-contact care survive and develop at much higher rates.
The benefits of kangaroo care include the following:
- Stabilized heart rates
- More controlled breathing including a higher percentage of bio-available oxygen reaching the infant's tissues
- Better sleep
- Improved weight gain
- Less crying
All of these benefits permit a faster hospital release date for premature infants, and so it's easy to see why kangaroo care is making headway in the world of neonatal care. Kangaroo care also helps to promote a strong bond between parent and child. There are mothers who experience pangs of fear or regret regarding the parenting issue as soon as their babies are born. Such problems are not improved by decreased contact. In fact, they are often exacerbated in such cases. In the event of a premature birth, it is vital that a mother establish a formidable bond with her infant. This decreases the occurrence of maternal depression and can create an overall better parenting atmosphere.
Premature Baby Kangaroo Care vs. No-Contact Care
In the 1950s, a psychologist named Harry Harlow ran a series of experiments on monkeys. He wanted to explore the concept of maternal deprivation and so two groups of infant monkeys were isolated. One group received a metal mechanical "mother" who was equipped to dispense milk, and the second group was exposed to a wire mother wrapped in terry cloth. The experiments regarding these two surrogate mothers yielded very interesting results. First of all, the monkey infants exposed to the terry cloth mother exhibited more emotional stablity, as they spent a large amount of time clinging to their "mother". Though the weight and growth patterns of both groups remained similar, the infant monkeys exposed only to the wire mother were psychologically damaged in the long run. They were less emotionally secure, more prone to nervous behaviors, and did not improve when later exposed to physical love and care.
These experiments sought to illustrate the importance of nurturing during infancy. It's not difficult to draw a corellation between Harlow's findings and the advantages of kangaroo care. Close human contact is psychologically and emotionally healing for infants, and this sort of reassurance is imperative during a child's earliest years.
Hence, parents should feel confident and proactive regarding kangaroo care. Fortunately, most United States hospitals are aware of premature baby kangaroo care compared to no contact care and encourage and accommodate parents who desire to implement this method into their infant's neonatal regimen.