Baby Care

Benefits of Kangaroo mother care for newborn babies, and tips to keep in mind

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Low birth weight babies, defined as infants weighing less than 2,500 gm at birth, face several health challenges from the moment they are born. Babies who, during birth, are smaller in size, with delicate features and underdeveloped organ systems, require specialised medical attention and care to thrive.

Cause for low birth weight in infants:

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Maternal factors such as nutritional deficiencies, severe anaemia, pregnancy-related hypertension, malaria, and smoking can contribute to an infant being born with low birth weight. Additionally, socioeconomic status, the mother’s short stature, young maternal age, closely spaced births, and placental insufficiency can also lead to this condition.

What is Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC):

Kangaroo Mother Care has been introduced as an intervention to prevent increased infection and mortality rates in low birth weight infants.

KMC comprises three main components:

Kangaroo position: Skin-to-skin contact must be maintained between the mother and the infant, and she must keep herself in a semi-reclining position so as to prevent gastric reflux in the baby.

Kangaroo nutrition: The baby is exclusively breastfed without adding complementary feeds to the diet.

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Follow-up: After discharge, the mother must continue KMC at home, with support from family members, and schedule regular follow-up visits with the paediatrician.

Benefits of KMC:

The benefits of kangaroo mother care include stabilisation of the baby’s heart beat, increase in the milk production by the mother, and promotion of weight gain in infants. It also offers thermal protection and decreases the risk of respiratory and hospital-acquired (nosocomial) infections, along with enhancing the emotional bond between the mother and the baby. It also shields the babies from excess cold and conditions like hypothermia.

Here are a few things you must keep in mind when providing kangaroo care to your baby:

Ensure dermatologic check: Make sure that your skin is free of rashes, cuts and open sores. Preferably clean yourself up or take a shower before providing kangaroo care, and avoid applying lotions or perfumes, as they may irritate the baby’s skin.

Stay away from nicotine: It is advised that mothers abstain from smoking before or during kangaroo care. If someone in the household smokes, it is best to avoid areas where they do so, as passive or secondhand smoking can be harmful to the infant.

Avoid infectious transmission: If you are suffering from any contagious disease, you must avoid providing kangaroo care to your child. Since the immunity of babies is not well developed, they are more prone to contracting the infection from you. The germs may get transmitted due to air-borne particles. Consult your medical professional, and consider using a face mask for the same.

Cover the baby: Try to ensure the baby is in an upright position and is resting their head on one side of the mother’s chest. As the baby becomes comfortable, you can use a blanket to cover up the neck and the back (of the infant) so as to provide adequate warmth.

A balanced diet and reasonable antenatal care with regular check-ups can help in preventing low birth weight in babies. It is essential to visit the pediatrician if you notice any abnormal changes in the baby.

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