Tuesday 15 May 2012

Hold Your Preemie - Kangaroo Care Awareness Day

Kangaroo care seem so simple, the art of putting a baby skin to skin with the mother or other primary caregiver. It makes such sense, that the natural body warmth of the mother will keep the infant warm, that this intense contact will help milk supply. Especially in the developing world, this is so vital. Formula is expensive and hard to get, and can be contaminated easily. Exclusive breastfeeding is so important.

Why do we need an awareness day for something so simple? The fact is that the benefits of kangaroo mother care are not known throughout the world. Unbelievably, in some developing countries, and even in the UK at times, kangaroo care is seen as primitive, and that incubators and artificial forms of care are somehow superior to a mother or father's love and care. I'm not saying incubators aren't important, they are of course, and having the latest equipment is essential too, but particularly in developing countries, implementing simple measures can and will save lives. It is estimated 444 000 babies could be saved by a programme of kangaroo care in developing countries.

I wasn't given access to Joseph for kangaroo care until he was a month old, and he wasn't a particularly needy neonate, the hospital just hadn't come across a mother wanting to do it before, with such a young baby. In some hospitals babies are offered kangaroo care whilst still ventilated. I also felt passionately that my husband needed to kangaroo too, and this wasn't encouraged either. So we just did it!

In the UK this is changing. Hospitals are implementing more and more family centred care initiatives, and the benefits of kangaroo care in the UK are largely accepted, so if you do need to challenge there are some clear resources you can use.

Where the real issue is, is in the developing world, which I outlined in this post during the release of the Born Too Soon report.

If you are passionate about this, join in today, tweet, share and spread the word. If you work within hospitals, raise awareness about kangaroo care. It's up to us, as mothers, to help those mothers without resources, without a voice. I remind you again that Save the Children are working hard on this issue internationally.

When I first had kangaroo care with Joseph, it healed my heart. I felt bonded with him, I felt like his mother, that he was mine for the first time since birth. It's just so important. Here are what some fellow mothers had to say.

bonding, happy baby, happy mum, boosted milk supply and a great shift when I enable it, especially with teenie vented babies :-) Karen
 The first time I got to really bond with my son :-) Sammantha
 It means everything to me too, he's almost 2 and we still have Kangaroo cuddles although he can't fit down my top anymore! Helen
To me it means bonding with the baby who shouldn't be there and proving the doctors wrong. Nikki
Kangaroo Care reminds me of the very first time I got to hold Ellen, 5 weeks old and on 40%+ oxygen but 2 mins on my chest and her oxygen could be reduced to 21% Sarah
It saved my son and I. Susanne
The first time i held my babies after delivery and 6 days in nicu 2 days after i had been discharged. was the most amazing, emotional and tender moment that made me feel like i was really their mum! irreplaceable and never forgotten. Vanessa
Please do what you can to help more mothers bond and care for their babies the way nature intended, and for doctors and nurses to understand the power of kangaroo care. 


  1. Hopefully hospitals are becoming more aware. It's sad though that you had to wait a month! I read a story about a baby who was believed to have died in birth being given kangaroo care by his mother and that actually stimulated his organs to get going again!

  2. I never once saw kangaroo care during my Elective in Africa. I wasn't offered it in the UK either. Both hugely disappointing. I naturally used kangaroo care once Little Miss was at home, and have great memories of lying on the sofa for hours with Little Miss on my chest and a blanket over the pair of us

  3. I had to be transferred to a hospital out of my region due to the lack of cots available in the West Midlands and stayed there for nine weeks before being transferred closer to home. Fortunately the nurses encouraged parents to give kangaroo care. I gave kangaroo care at every opportunity but the evenings were even more special once visitors/parents had gone home and I would sit for hours with my baby as I was able to sleep on the unit for the whole nine weeks. I learnt over time that not only was kangaroo care great for the bonding process and the production of breast milk it also helped my son's brain develop. Kangaroo care creates more neurological pathways in the brain and my son, now 5, is very loving and we are very close. I am surprised to learn this isn't encouraged at some hospitals and raising awareness will hopefully teach other hospitals to consider implementing and encouraging such a natural thing.

  4. We had twins at 29 weeks and it seemed to be forever before I could hold either of them adding to a very surreal entrance to parenthood. We kangaroo cared for A after a week and E after 9 days and it was 6 weeks before we had a family cuddle. The contact was dictated by the confidence/availability/amenability of the nurses as well of course as the babies condition. If I were to go through it again, I would be more assertive about kangaroo care early on and request it more consistently.
    I'll always remember how A smiled when during the kangaroo cuddle and how after recovering from NEC she was so famished and went straight for the boob. Made all the expressing worthwhile :)

  5. Danielle-Marie Humphrey15 May 2012 at 22:31

    Kangeroo Care is so important and my husband was offered to do it before me as I was too unwell to see her but he declined as he wanted it to be me first! xx

  6. We were really lucky in that our ward was passionate about Kangaroo care led by a dedicated sister. As soon as were were able to hold him at a week old they were stripping us off and tying us the baby with sheets and blankets. They even gave us a hand mirror so we could watch the baby's face when he was at an awkward angle. Unfortunately there wasn't always enough staff on hand to enable it but when there was they took every opportunity to help us. My husband was likewise encouraged. Like the other mums these were the moments when I felt like a mummy at last and sure this helped the process when expressing/breastfeeding. Kangaroo care gave us our most precious memories of those early months.

  7. This is a lovely post. Aleyna wasn't early but she was in intensive care for 13 days from birth. We were in Turkey at the time and she was in a hospital 2 hours away from me.When I did eventually make it to the hospital (I had had a general anaesthetic) I only saw Aleyna once in 13 days. Turkish law prevents anyone except nurses entering intensive care:( Kangaroo care sounds amazing :)

  8. Sadly, after my work for #borntoosoon week, this is really common, many countries are the same. At the UN press conference a Mexican journalist said the same. Kangaroo care is a well documented clinical practice so I hope this changes, but there's a lot of attitudinal work to do. That must have been horrendous. I always feel for termie mums, because when you have premmie, you know that's where your baby will be and have some idea for how long, term complications are so terrifying x

  9. Very disappointing, both in Africa but especially here, as it should be being routinely offered. It's in the UN baby friendly initiative that hospitals are ascribing too. Makes me very cross. We still do kangaroo care now when Joseph is fractious or poorly.

  10. That is really sweet, that he was offered it, and that he declined it. My in laws came to see me in hospital, but refused to see Joseph as I hadn't met him. I thought that was very lovely of them.

  11. It does seem unbelievable its not on offer at all hospitals, and I am blogging about this to make parents more aware and to ask, and to use the resources and research too. I just took kangaroo for granted and was surprised when I looked through my archives I'd never blogged about it before, so I'm just as bad!