Sunday, November 3, 2013

Kangaroo Care for Premature Babies

The practice of skin-to-skin contact for newborns and their mothers is important to me. And Kangaroo Mother Care - the technique of placing premature babies against their parent's chests each day in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) is something I teach parents who are expecting twins or triplets, with a corresponding higher chance of premature birth. In amongst all the high-tech equipment in the very best hospitals, we know tiny babies grow better, sooner, when they spend time in close skin contact.

But what about those babies born in countries where there is no high-tech hospital ward filled with beeping monitors, controlled climates and the latest in modern medicine to support fragile new lives?

Maybe we don't want to think about that? Maybe we should.

Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is not something terribly new - indeed, it was first formally used in South America in the late 1970s for the very reason that there wasn't enough incubators available to cater for the babies who needed them. Almost in desperation, they turned to the only source of warmth and protection they could get - the mothers of those babies and not only did babies survive - they thrived.

In recent years, Western hospitals have embraced the concept and now it is common practice to see tiny babies snuggled against their parents, attached to all the technology and learning how to gradually feed from the breast. And in Sweden, KMC is actually replacing those incubators those poorer countries weren't able to afford, with mothers staying with their babies in NICU and practicing continuous KMC with better results!

Isn't it wonderful?

What about those other babies, though, the ones we don't want to think too hard about?

Start thinking.

Last week, at the Melbourne Pregnancy, Babies and Children's Expo, I met an amazing young midwife, Narelle. In amongst a commercial sea of things for parents to be tempted to buy, her small stand could easily have been overlooked. But with my granddaughter snuggled against my chest, I saw photos of beaming mothers with tiny heads poking out above their shirts and I knew this was something important.

Kanga Care is an organisation changing - saving - lives in Africa. By the simple introduction of Kangaroo Care, babies stopped dying.

Kangaroo Mother Care Amana Hospital

AMAZING KMC WARDIn The WardBeautiful Mother and Baby

Amazing. Simple. Effective.

I am committed to supporting this project as much as I can - no, not by climbing Mount Killamanjaro - but by two things I can do really well: talking and making! Specifically, telling everyone I can about this project and making hats for the babies with all my leftover bits of wool and a little time knitting/crocheting. Further, I am going to donate $5.00 from the sale of every Boobie Beanie I make.

Sometimes overwhelming world problems paralyze us into thinking we cannot help at all. But here is something we can all get behind. Because these tiny little humans need all our help.

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