Bronson Helps Parents Learn Benefits of Kangaroo Care
Bronson Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the BirthPlace at Bronson Battle Creek are taking part in an International Kangaroo-a-thon. The event, which is underway throughout the first two weeks of May, focuses on skin-to-skin care of newborns, otherwise known as kangaroo care.
During kangaroo care, babies are placed on the bare chest of the mother or father, similar to the way kangaroos carry their young. While this technique is most commonly used for babies who are premature or critically ill, it also provides benefits to healthy newborns and their parents as well. Kangaroo care reduces baby discomfort, stress and the risk of infections. It also helps keep the baby warm, stabilize the heart rate and promote brain development and weight gain. For the parent, it helps with bonding, can reduce stress and for a mother, it can increase her supply of breast milk. It often helps parents gain confidence in the touch and care of their baby.
While the staffs in the NICU and BirthPlace always encourage skin-to-skin care with newborns, during this Kangaroo-a-thon, it is in the spotlight. Parents are provided with educational materials and tips about kangaroo care, and the amount of time spent on kangaroo care is being logged in each unit. Neonatologist Dr. Seth Malin and one of our NICU graduates even went so far as dressing in kangaroo costumes to deliver the message.
“We need to emphasize to all the families, especially those of premature babies, how important this contact is,” says Malin. “Not only does data show that the babies do better, but parents really benefit too. In the NICU, where babies spend days, weeks or months, it helps parents feel like parents when they get to hold their baby.”
Tammy Strandberg, manager of nursing at the BirthPlace at Bronson BattleCreek, says employees enjoy helping guide parents. “Our staff is delighted to be a part of creating an environment that will allow for this special time as families begin their journey with their newborn(s).”