Mariela Wilhelm, Certified Kangaroo Care Consultant
I’m the UCHI designer, critical care nurse turned baby carrier manufacturer. In November 2012, I was asked by my hospital to design a kangaroo care wrap, which I introduced a few days later. In June 2013, I received my certification from the USIKC (United States Institute for Kangaroo Care). I have attended medical expos and I have participated in training USIKC students. Each year, around 70-80 participants (most health care professionals) take this amazing course and manufacturers teach them the proper technique using actual garments. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that hospitals use a garment to secure an infant during kangaroo care (safer). The WHO (World Health Organization), UNICEF, Save The Children Fund promote it as an “Essential element of newborn care to save and improve all newborn lives”.
What is kangaroo mother care?
Let’s start with with some misconceptions:
- Kangaroo care is the same as baby wearing, they are different in various ways.
- Kangaroo care is inserting baby in a shirt with a built in pouch (products sold in stores, baby boutiques and marketed as “skin to skin” garments).
- Kangaroo care is not holding baby wrapped in a blanket or cuddling baby.
- Kangaroo care is nice to do but has no significant effect, just feels good.
- Kangaroo care is just for premature babies.
- Any amount of time doing kangaroo care/skin to skin is fine, even minutes a day.
What it is:
Kangaroo mother care (KMC) is a therapy that helps the newborn baby transition to life outside the womb. The term “kangaroo care” and “kangaroo mother care” are normally used for the proper technique, often time it is referred to as “skin to skin”, however even though KMC is skin to skin, skin to skin is not necessarily kangaroo care.
It started in 1978 in Colombia, instituted by a group of neonatologists in order to lower a 70% infant mortality rate. They succeeded. Within a few years, it was being implemented throughout the world. In some countries, such as Colombia, Brazil, Sweden and South Africa, ambulatory (and outpatient kangaroo care) is in use.
Backed by 40 years of research, KMC has been shown to:
- Reduce mortality
- Reduce morbidity (serious illnesses)
- Earlier discharge
- Decreased oxygen requirements
- Increased weight gain
- Accelerated brain development
- Stronger immune system
- Less crying and colic
- Better sleeping and eating
- Increased milk supply
- Stabilizes the newborn’s temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate
Kangaroo care is not just good for babies, it’s good for mom:
- Faster recovery from both vaginal delivery and caesarian section
- Less stress
- Increased milk production
- Lower the risk of post partum depression
To meet the needs of clinicians and parents, my three kangaroo care garments (original wrap, vest and clip wrap) offer access to lines while securing infant to chest. Unlike other “kangaroo care garments” they allow the mother to pump without interrupting therapy. The original wrap and clip wrap also allow for ambulation. My kangaroo care wraps include instructions and safety information. I recommend a different product for each baby, depending on how early he/she was born and how many babies there are.
My original wrap, which is patent pending in Canada, has been used for outpatient and ambulatory care in Colombia and Brazil since 2014.
In countries where kangaroo care is light years ahead of ours, babies are more likely to survive if they spend less time inside the incubator. Micro-organisms thrive in warm moist environments such as incubators and sepsis (blood infection) is the number one cause of death in premature babies.
That’s me with the amazing Dr Susan Ludington, founder of the USIKC, leading researcher. She’s responsible for bringing kangaroo care to North America.
Check out this You Tube video that will melt your heart:
Images provided by: UCHI Inc