What is Kangaroo Mother Care?
Definition: A universally available and biologically sound method of care for all newborns, but in particular for premature babies, with three components …
1. Skin-to-skin Contact
2. Exclusive breastfeeding
3. Support to the mother infant dyad.
Skin-to-skin contact is between the baby front and the mother’s chest. The more skin-to-skin, the better. For comfort a small nappy is fine, and for warmth a cap may be used. Skin-to-skin contact should ideally start at birth, but is helpful at any time. It should ideally be continuous day and night, but even shorter periods are still helpful.
Exclusive breastfeeding means that for an average mother, expressing from the breasts or direct suckling by the baby is all that is needed. For very premature babies, supply of some essential nutrients may be indicated.
Support to the dyad means that whatever is needed for the medical, emotional, psychological and physical well being of mother and baby is provided to them, without separating them. This might mean adding ultramodern equipment if available, or purely intense psychological support in contexts with no resources.
In Bogota, Colombia, where KMC started, “early discharge” is regarded as the third part of the definition. This is also a form of support where hospitals are overcrowded, but it also requires a good community support system. (See INK.)
In the USA, the term Kangaroo Care (KC) is generally used. This has been defined as “intra-hospital maternal-infant skin-to-skin contact”. KC is generally started later, and on stabilised prematures, and is used an adjunct to technological care.
While KC has profound effects on the baby, KMC does so much more!