21 Mar Born Too Soon? Kangaroo Mother Care Can Save Pre-term Babies!
Thirty five-year-old Sonam (name changed) lives with her husband in a village at the outskirts of the Gurgaon, Delhi NCR. In November 2015, Sonam gave birth to a son at W Pratiksha Hospital. Delivered prematurely at the gestational age of 27 weeks, Sonam’s son weighed only 700 gms. The new mother was reluctant to accept her son, fearing that he would be too small to survive.
However, the staff at W Hospital, where Dr Somendra Shukla, head of the Neonatology Department has established a Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) unit, began educating both Sonam and her husband about low birth weight babies and the benefits of Kangaroo Mother Care. This reassured Sonam that despite her newborn son’s prematurity and small size, he could survive just like other premature and low birth weight babies had before him. At the end of the 11/2 month, the baby’s newborn’s weight had increased to 1.7 kg. Sonam agreed to continue to assisting with KMC at home and received further instruction on how to care for her baby. She said, “I want my little one to survive just as other babies have and I will do my best with this child in order for him to survive.”
Both Sonam and her husband continued practicing Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) at home and returned to the hospital for periodic follow-up visits. Now three months old, Sonam’s son is healthy and doing well thanks to the help of his family and support of the KMC trained staff at W Hospital.
15 million babies are born too soon every year. Preterm birth is the leading cause of death in newborns worldwide, and now the second killer of children under-5 years.
As per Dr Somendra, Head Neonatology at W Hospital Gurgaon, “mother often feel so helpless faced with a very premature baby being cared for in an incubator. She can do little more than just be there, this is important, newborns even of this age can hear and feel, and recognise mothers voice and smell. Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is a simple, low-cost intervention doing skin-to-skin contact between baby and mother (or father), anything from 10 minutes to an hour or more a day in which baby be left on mum’s chest. A care plan in which the mother became the incubator. KMC as above used regardless of weight and gestation and it provides the baby with very intensive care “. Skin-to-skin contact from birth is biologically necessary for all newborns, and life-saving for prematures.
The underlying neuroscience is that the baby is stressed for most of the time as she is separated from Mum, and this stress keeps the baby unstable. Holding your baby in skin-to-skin for over an hour is needed to make a full sleep cycle, which wires brain circuits. It also decreases the load of stress which protects from long term “wear and tear” effects on baby organs and metabolism. The neurobiology also changes, the constant sense of safety makes for better emotional and social development. Here are the benefits of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) for premature babies – Better brain development, better emotional development, less stress, less crying, less brain bleeds, more settled sleep, babies are more alert when they are awake, babies feel less pain from injections , breathe better, temperature is more stable, breastfeeding starts more easily, more breastmilk is produced, they grow faster and a ready to go home sooner.
It is the fundamental human right! If the baby is premature then add technology, but with the baby in her SAFE place, on the mothers chest!
Dr. Somendra Shukla is a focused pediatrics professional with more than 10 yrs of experience in Neonatology & Paediatrics.