Kangaroo Care: Give a Helping Hug

May 17, 2018

Wearing a mask as a precaution during our daughters fragile state.

We all remember the first time we held our baby. For some it was with in the first few moments after birth and for others it might not have been for a few days to weeks. For me it was three days – the longest three days ever. It was on that third day that one nurse asked if anyone had spoken with me about kangaroo care.Being that this was only my second child and my first that spent time in the NICU, I had no clue what kangaroo care was. She went on to explain how it worked was and how it is beneficial to both my daughter and to me.

What is kangaroo care?

Kangaroo care is skin-to-skin holding of your baby. Your baby is placed on your bare chest, usually with a blanket draped over you both.

I was hesitant at first. My baby was so tiny and seemed to fragile. I was so nervous to have her out of her little warming bed. What if something went wrong or she got tangled up in the cords and wires? My nurse assured me she had done this many times and we would be ok.

The experience was amazing. We were only allowed one hour, and it flew by. I didn’t want to give her up, but I knew the NIXU staff knew what was best. As she got bigger the time limits began to go away.

Benefits of kangaroo care

Kangaroo care with my daughter. Photo credit Nicole Polk photography

Kangaroo care has many benefits for both the parent and baby. And kangaroo care is not only for mom; dads can and should participate as well. My husband and our daughter would take a little nap together quite often.

Your body heat acts like your baby’s warming bed or isolette. Your baby’s body temperature will regulate with yours. Your baby will really relax and sleep well with nestled on you. Your scent and voice are familiar and calming. This is the rest your baby needs to grow and get stronger. I couldn’t believe how stable all of my daughter’s monitors were as she laid there on my chest, sound asleep. Her breathing was calm, her heart rate was perfect, her temperature was perfect and she was happy!

Your baby is not the only one to benefit from kangaroo care. Skin-to-skiin care can help boost your milk supply. I would often try to pump right after holding my daughter and got my best results during those pumping sessions.

Kangaroo care can also be a very calming time. Holding your baby skin to skin can help relieve stress and help you bond with your baby, despite the time you have to spend away from them.

Even if the first time doesn’t go perfect, don’t give up. I continued to participate in kangaroo care with my daughter even the first few weeks after she came home. It calmed her when nothing else would.