Kangaroo Care May Be The Best Option For Premature Babies

Photo credit: bigstockphoto.com

Photo credit: bigstockphoto.com

In the course of any pregnancy, the woman in question, her family, and the doctors she’s working with are always on the lookout for any potential complications. One that affects millions of newborns around the world is premature birth.

In many cases, it can be difficult to determine why exactly a woman has gone into labor early. One major factor appears to be genetic in nature. However, certain behaviors, like smoking and drug use, can increase the likelihood of a premature birth. Physical injuries, miscarriages, or having had multiple abortions can also increase the chances, according to the Mayo Clinic. Other environmental factors, such as living at a high attitude, can contribute an increased risk of premature labor for some women. Also, if a woman has given birth prematurely in the past, this will increase her chances of doing so again.

When a baby is born prematurely in most developed countries, the infant is placed in an incubator for its protection, and it may have to remain there for many days on end. But new research shows that a far more low-tech and traditional method called kangaroo care may actually be a superior method for ensuring that premature babies grow up to be strong and healthy.


Conventional Treatment for Babies Born Prematurely

If a woman goes into labor two months early in say, Britain, the United States, or Australia, what will typically happen is that the expectant mother will be rushed off the hospital and sent to the maternity ward. When the baby is born, the infant will be immediately taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and placed in clear, box-like incubator. This environment is climate- and temperature-controlled and is meant to protect to the baby from germs and any other potential harm. The baby could remain there for weeks if there are any additional health complications, such as low birth weight, which is common among babies that are born prematurely.


The Kangaroo Care Method

Kangaroo care” is a term used to describe an alternative approach for caring for premature babies, and is so named for the resemblance to the way mother kangaroos store their joeys (baby kangaroos) in their pouches. This approach is adopted mainly out of necessity, since in many developing countries, baby incubators and other advanced medical equipment aren’t always available.

When a baby is born prematurely, a mother using the kangaroo method simply holds the unclothed newborn upright against her bare chest. This is especially important during the first few hours of life, but is done consistently while the infant is very young.

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