Also called ‘skin to skin’, Kangaroo Care was developed in Bogota, Columbia in the early 1980s by Rey and Martinez. They found themselves in a situation where there were not enough incubators, so premature babies were strapped to their mothers.
The mortality rate for these premature infants reduced from 70% to 30%. Research studies since have reported benefits of Kangaroo Care in all types of care setting.
In 2001, the World Health Organisation said ‘Kangaroo Care should be implemented in affluent and developing countries’. As a result, many Western Neonatal Intensive Care Units now perform some form of Kangaroo Care for premature babies.
Research Studies show Kangaroo Care is beneficial for all babies and their parents and is associated with:
- More successful breastfeeding; Various research has shown that Kangaroo Care helps with more regular, consistent breastfeeding, even in premature babies.
- Better weight gain; The British Journal of Midwifery (September 2011, Vol 19, No 9) suggests there are major benefits for premature babies at risk of hypoglycemia. Babies with Kangaroo Care have gained healthy weight at a higher rate.
- Shorter hospital stay; As the weight gain has been faster for babies with Kangaroo Care, the overall health has stabilised quicker. This leads to faster hospital discharge.
- Better temperature control; Research by Mori et al 2010, advocates the effectiveness of Kangaroo Care at increasing body temperature. This plays a vital role in stabilising babies temperatures which helps them to conserve their energy and build up reserves.
- Breathing, heart rate, blood sugar regulation; Skin-to-skin contact helps the mother & baby to bond, meaning the baby’s heart and respiratory system improves at a faster rate. As a result, calmer babies are better equipped to self regulate.
- Brain development; There is a set of nerves on the baby’s chest and mother’s chest, which are only activated by skin-to-skin contact. Once activated the nerves send oxytocin messages to the baby’s brain which aid in brain development.
- Successful bonding; A vast number of mothers who participate in Kangaroo Care report bonding with their babies at a faster rate than mothers who do not.
- Less crying & quieter sleep; Calmer babies with well-regulated temperatures tend to cry less, be less stressed and thus have higher quality longer sleep.
Kangaroo Care may also help the baby to receive ‘good bacteria’ from the mother. Some scientists believe this could be an important link in boosting the baby’s immune system and ability to fight disease.
Kangaroo Care should be carried out from birth and continued after the baby is discharged from the hospital.
Baby wraps are the perfect way to conveniently participate in Kangaroo Care both in and out of hospital – allowing you to hold your baby close in the wrap whilst carrying out day to day activities.
Radio Interview: Kangaroo Care explained by Sarah Gregson on Radio Kent
KangaWrap Born out of Award Winning, Pioneering Research
Midwives at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust made the first UK study to investigate Kangaroo Care in a postnatal ward environment. They found Kangaroo Care babies needed a shorter hospital stay – four days rather than the five for those with ‘usual’ care – and there was more exclusive breastfeeding on discharge from hospital; 72% vs 55%.
The research delivered positive results for Kangaroo Care and won the Royal College of Midwives National Award and an All Party Parliamentary Group Award.
- Award Winning Kangaroo Care Project at Tunbridge Wells Hospital – Royal College of Midwives 2012 (Read More)
- Kangaroo Care in pre-term or low birth weight babies in postnatal ward – British Journal of Midwifery – Sept ’11 (Read More)
- How kangaroo cuddles help Caesarean babies bond with mum – Daily Mail 4-Feb-14 (Read More)
- Skin-to-skin contact after elective caesarean section: Investigating the effect on breastfeeding rates – British Journal of Midwifery – January 2016 (Read More)
Kangaroo Care for Caesarean Birth
The KangaWrap Midwives then applied to conduct further research to find better ways to serve mums who give birth via Caesarean Section. For this, the team designed the ‘KangaWrap Kardi’ to enable mums to have Kangaroo Care (or ‘Skin to Skin’) immediately and in comfort after a Caesarean birth.
The study showed favourable results and, like the KangaWrap, the KangaWrap Kardi is being taken up by other hospitals and birthing centres who are keen to practise Kangaroo Care.
Watch the hospital’s short film to show this baby-friendly Caesarean Birth:
The KangaWrap Kardi is only available for supervised use in hospitals for Caesarean Birth and the hours immediately following it. On discharge from hospital, a KangaWrap is perfect for Kangaroo Care for mum (or dad!) and baby.