The life-saving benefits of kangaroo care

One feature that has made it particularly appealing in wealthy, industrialised regions is the sense of empowerment it offers to mothers by being able to participate in the improvement of their pre-term baby compared to incubator care. The technique has also been shown to improve bonding between mother and baby, particularly because it avoids separating women from their newborns in the first days after birth.

Babies who have kangaroo care may even cry less and sleep more peacefully, some small-scale studies have suggested. It has also been linked to brain development, including improved attention and movement. One study has even suggested that feeling the mother’s heartbeat helps to synchronise the infants breathing while attached to her chest.

Yet, despite the growing evidence base to support the benefits of kangaroo care, its implementation around the world is patchy, even in developed nations like the US. Fewer than 50{b4bb8ddb70249670c85c66def16f765bd40a90ddaa69bcee7e340d9a7e1b07a9} of newborns and mothers receive kangaroo care in US hospitals, according to some admittedly outdated statistics collected by researchers in 2002. According to Lawn, things are changing.

“The governments, probably, that are investing the most in kangaroo mother care are the Scandinavians,” she says. “Across Europe and North America, kangaroo mother care is becoming the standard of practice. Either for stable pre-term babies but also for babies who are sick.”

For first-time mother Ojoma Ekhomun the technique has allowed her to protect and nurture her baby boy at his most vulnerable. Even now he is out of danger and growing every day, she intends to continue carrying him on her chest.

“I will continue it until [my] baby starts walking,” she says. “It is very nice.”

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