Ukugona – To hold or cuddle (Did we just name a baby carrier here?)
It is one of nature’s marvelous displays. Similarly, we have learnt to implement our own “pouch” which is known as kangaroo mother care (KMC) or alternatively skin on skin contact. I am sure many of you have heard of those terms; phrases coined either by hospital staff, friends or colleagues. And yes, it’s as important as they say it is!
KMC is a technique that was introduced a very long time ago. As with any new technique, most were reluctant to attempt it or even think about attempting it. However, currently, most people are more open minded and involved in today’s world. So, what exactly is KMC?
KMC is a technique applied to assist in the development of your child, especially premature babies and low birth weight infants. However, that does not mean it can’t be utilised with our full term babies! Whilst in this position, it stimulates the physiological and biological components of the infant, and even better, the child feels secure and within a safe environment, being so close to the caregiver. Research on the technique has indicated many benefits for the child. These include, assisting in establishing the process of breastfeeding, better breathing because the babies breath regulates with yours as well as their heart rate, efficient growth and protection from infections. Additionally, it has many benefits for the new mom as well. It relieves stress, it allows them to feel closer to their child and it definitely empowers them.
KMC is a technique applied to assist in the development of your child, especially premature babies and low birth weight infants.
But wait! The best thing about this, is that it is not just for the mothers. Yes dads, it is your time to shine. So many dads laugh at me when I suggest this, but those that actually try it out come back and tell me that they loved the bonding time! I know that many dads feel a bit out of the loop, because the mother is always the one taking charge, because let’s face it- they need us more often right. However, for the father, it provides an effective means for bonding- those paternal instincts will definitely be heightened. I am sure many of you would love that! KMC for the win!
So how might one go about doing KMC? It must be noted that KMC is not a once of thing, it is something that needs to be regularly carried out in order to reap the benefits of it.
To carry out the method of skin on skin contact, the baby is usually naked, and kept with their nappy and socks on in a hospital environment. At home, I keep my little cub completely naked against my chest and throw a blanket over us both. The baby should be kept upright, between the mother’s breasts or on the chest for the father. To keep in place, the infant is either wrapped in a blanket or shirt. And the best part is that it provides easy access for breast feeding, but not limited to breastfeeding moms!
My little cub is now 14 months and I still engage with him in this way when he will sit still. I find it very useful around the times when he has a fever. Just two weeks ago, he had an unexplained fever for 5 days which left him lethargic, hyperventilating and sweaty. This technique (with suppositories) helped him through those rough fever spikes.
During this time, speak or read to your baby and make eye contact with them. Its also a lovely starter position for tummy time!
If you’re around the house, I like the Noonoopie wrap to keep baby in position and allows a bit of coverup for you. It can be used way past 1 years old! Although, I would recommend 15-30 minutes of KMC uninterrupted and giving your baby your undivided attention. During this time, speak or read to your baby and make eye contact with them. Its also a lovely starter position for tummy time!
All in all, KMC is beneficial to the family. It may seem like something simple and inconsequential, but as a health care professional I have seen the remarkability of this technique. So many are too quick to reduce the simple things in life as inadequate or time consuming. At the end of the day, everyone wants what is best for their child and a bond for the rest of their lives, and KMC is one of the ways to get there.