The first time I attempted KMC I was filled with a mixture of emotions. I was happy to hold my baby in my arms for the first time after a long wait, (I think it was two weeks after birth). I loved it. But I was also very scared because the baby was very tiny, very fragile and full of wires and tubes all over. I feared I might pull one out due to fear or mere impulsiveness. I feared I could hurt the baby. Thankfully, the nurses were of great assistance all the way and we never had any such incidence.  WHAT IS KANGAROO MOTHER CARE (KMC)? KMC is a term commonly used in the NICU that involves skin to skin contact of the parent and her diapered premature baby. The baby is placed in an upright position against a parent’s bare chest (father) and between the breasts if it’s the mother with a blanket draped over the baby’s back.  HISTORY OF KANGAROO MOTHER CARE (KMC)  Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is the brainchild of Colombian Dr. Edgar Rey Sanabria, Professor of Neonatology at Department of Pediatric -, who introduced it to the Instituto Materno Infantil in 1978. It was an idea born out of desperation. The institute served the city’s poorest people. At the time this was the biggest neonatal unit in Colombia, responsible for delivering 30,000 babies a year. Overcrowding was so bad that three babies would have to share an incubator at a time, and the rate of cross-infection was high. Death rates were spiraling and so too was the level of abandonment as young, impoverished mothers, who never even got to touch their babies, found it easier just to take off. Rey happened upon a paper on the physiology of the kangaroo. It mentioned how at birth kangaroos are bald and roughly the size of a peanut – very immature, just like a human pre-term baby. Once in its mother’s pouch the kangaroo receives thermal regulation from the direct skin-to-skin contact afforded by its lack of hair. It then latches onto its mother’s nipple, where it remains until it has grown to roughly a quarter of its mother’s weight, when finally it is ready to emerge into the world. This struck a chord with Rey. He went back to the institute and decided to test it out. He trained mothers of premature babies to carry them just as kangaroos do. The results were remarkable with the assistance of Death rates and infection levels dropped immediately. Overcrowding was reduced because hospital stays were much shorter, incubators were freed up, and the number of abandoned babies fell. KMC COMPONENTS Kangaroo Mother Care is a broader package of care defined by the WHO. KMC was originally meant for only low birth weight and preterm infants, but it can be used on full term infants as well. It is a care strategy that includes three main components: kangaroo position, kangaroo nutrition and kangaroo discharge. Kangaroo position means direct skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, but can include father, other family member or a surrogate. The infant should be upright on the chest, and the airway secured with safe technique. Kangaroo nutrition implies exclusive breastfeeding, with additional support at as required but with the aim of achieving ultimately exclusive breastfeeding. In some instances however, preterms might be too sick and weak to breastfeed. There are provisions for such cases. Kangaroo discharge requires that the infant is sent home early, meaning as soon as the mother is breastfeeding and able to provide all basic care herself. The mother continues with KMC technique at home. Born too soon and too small - Ediths twin boys (7497732174).jpg WHEN TO START KMC? Your baby’s doctor will direct you according to the hospital’s policy. Most NICUs will practice this after the infant is medically stable. While some might start practicing KMC earlier on while the infants are still on ventilators. Kangaroo care is not suitable for babies who are still very premature, or whose health is unstable. For others it might only be advisable for short periods, or once every few days. HOW TO KANGAROO CARE
  • Wear a front-opening top. Some hospitals provide gowns that make this easier for parents.
  • Always wash your hands before picking up your baby.
  • Dress your baby in just a nappy and maybe a hat if the nurse advises it.
  • Place the baby on your chest – for women, between the breasts in an upright position to provide a clear airway for the baby.
  • Wrap your top around her to keep her warm or cover the baby’s back with a blanket.
  • Lean back, relax and enjoy the closeness with your baby.
  • Have a soothing music if you can to allow complete relaxation
Kangaroo care is often possible even for a baby who is attached to tubes and wires, but you will need to stay near the machines and try not to move around too much. Have all that you will need at an arm’s reach before you start KMC. For example, I would always have a bottle of water nearby, my phone and a magazine or a book to read.  KMC BENEFITS TO THE BABY Kangaroo care may help your baby:
  • Regulate baby’s body temperature, keep warm…prevent hypothermia
  • Keep his heart and breathing regular
  • Gain weight
  • Spend more time in deep sound sleep
  • Spend more time being quiet when awake and less time crying
  • Promotes baby mental development
  • Promotes more successful breastfeeding of full-term infants
  • Reduces instances of infection
  • Reduces length of hospital stay
 KMC BENEFITS TO THE MOTHER Kangaroo care may help you:
  • Make more breast milk
  • Reduce your stress
  • Feel close and bond with your baby
  • Gives the mother the satisfaction of helping alleviate the infant’s pain and just to make the baby feel loved and relax.
  • Decreases hospital-associated costs.
  • Gives the mother a chance to rest as the father can also kangaroo hence promotes dad-baby bonding.

The International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day is celebrated on May 15th since 2011. It is a day to increase awareness, education, and celebration to enhance the practice of kangaroo care globally. Healthcare professionals, parents, volunteers around the world show their support, in their own way, for improving Kangaroo Care practice to benefit babies, parents, and society at large. Video demonstrating how to kangaroo. REFERENCES By Kangaroo Care – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

About Brenda S. Anyumba

Brenda is passionate about raising premature babies and finding solutions to save the increasing numbers of premature babies dying daily in Africa. She had a late preterm baby and an extremely preterm baby. Brenda is also keen on the training of children according to God's will. She reads on 'Kingdom Parenting' and practises the knowledge she learns on her boys and is blessed to share them with you too.