Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is a practice of providing uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact between mother and newborn by exclusive breastfeeding and early discharge from hospital.
It is a powerful and easy to use method to promote the health and well-being of, Low birth weight (LBW) – infants with birth weight below 2500g, preterm infants – infants with gestational age less than 37 weeks and also term infants.
Why is it called Kangaroo Mother Care?
This concept is derived how a mother kangaroo provides warmth, safety and a constant supply of food (milk) to its newborn baby kangaroo by keeping him in its pouch, if the baby is very immature at birth or underweight.
Similarly, the human infants who are immature and LBW infant benefits from skin-to-skin care because it provides warmth, safety and food.
Components/Elements of KMC
- Kangaroo position
It is achieved by placing baby in a flexed position skin-to-skin on mother’s chest between the mother’s breasts in an upright position. Also, includes turning the head to the side, in a slightly extended position, to keep the airway open and allow eye-to-eye contact between mother and baby and to avoid forward flexion & hyperextension of the neck.
- Kangaroo nutrition
Provide breastfeeding whenever possible.
- Kangaroo discharge
Mother continues KMC practice at home after discharge. Once the baby is feeding well, maintaining stable body temperature in KMC position and gaining weight, mother and baby can go home.
- Kangaroo Support
Health care staff provides support to the mother to take care of her infant at the hospital; it is also advised to practice KMC at home for a while.
Benefits of KMC
1) Benefits to the baby
- Improved cardiac and respiratory stability, with fewer episodes apnoea.
- KMC can successfully treat mild respiratory distress.
- Improved gastrointestinal function, earlier initiation & duration of breastfeeding.
- Decrease energy expenditure & satisfactory weight gain.
- Protection against infections.
- Effective thermal control (baby’s temperature is maintained within a narrow temperature range).
- A thermal synchrony develops between mother & baby.
- Infants are much less stressed and this provides neurological protection to the infant, resulting in improved neurodevelopment and better organized sleep patterns.
- More mature and organized electrical brain activity
2) Benefits to the Mother
- The mother’s confidence in caring for her infant is boosted.
- Improved bonding between mother and infant due to the physical closeness between them.
- Mothers are empowered to play an active role in their infants care.
- Mothers are enabled to become the primary caregiver of their infants.
- Breastfeeding is promoted.
3) Benefits to the Hospital
- Significant cost-savings as well as better outcomes.
- Less dependence on incubators.
- Less nursing staff necessary.
- Shorter hospital stay.
- Improved morale & quality of care.
- Better survival.
Types of KMC:
Intermittent KMC is practiced with infants, who are very small and still need incubator care, who are not on full oral feeds, or who are receiving oxygen therapy.
Intermittent KMC can range from many times per day to only once every few days. The time period can vary from minutes to hours at a time depending on the condition of the infant and the availability of the mother.
It encourages the mother to take part in the care of her infant while still in the nursery.
- It is KMC that is given continually, both day & night, except when the mother has to bathe or attend to other personal needs.
- It can be practiced at the hospital or at home.
- It requires support from the family members, including the husband.
- It is the ideal type of KMC for LBW infants.
When to discontinue KMC?
KMC may be discontinued when the baby’s gestation reaches the term (40 weeks) or weight is around 2.5kg; they show that they are uncomfortable, pulling their limbs out, or cries and fuses each time mother tries KMC!