It seems as though, for much of the country, Mother Nature decided, “To hell with fall, WINTER IS COMING!” This morning my California hometown dipped to a frigid 45 degrees. That is just downright cold as we waited for the promised 68-degree high. I mean, not even in the 70s!
It’s those gloomy nights that make you want to snuggle up with a loved one, feeling their body warmth against you.
That warmth can quite literally be a lifesaver.
Kangaroo Care is the technique of skin-to-skin contact between a brand new baby and parent. Our NICU nurses repeatedly told us how much the babes enjoy the experience and that it makes them thrive. It was actually acutely noticeable as I felt my tiny babes’ rise and fall against my chest as I breathed – my bare skin against their paper-thin skin coaching them to keep breathing. Their vital stats steadied somewhat as their little bodies lay cupped in my hand.
Studies state this marsupial method offers significant benefits for preterm infants – such as increased ability to regulate their own temperature, decreased apnea occurrences and increased weight gain. Additional studies also suggest that Kangaroo’d babies have improved cognitive development, decreased stress levels, reduced pain responses, normalized growth and positive effects on motor development.
Interestingly enough, this was initially cultivated as a way to help babies not privileged to have the best of all medical equipment and care for preterm infants in areas where incubators are either unavailable or unreliable.
As it turns out, it’s not only good for medical purposes. It helps solidify a bond with the child, who can feel a little out of sorts after being ripped from their dark, warm, internal sensory deprivation chamber.
So what’s with the funky name? Spoiler: It’s not because of doting mother figure, Kanga, watching over the silly old 100 Acre Wood gang. Kangaroo care is named for the similarity to how the eponymous marsupials carry their young.
All baby roos are born extremely immature (aka preemie peanuts). When born, a kangaroo baby is called a “pinky,” likely because they have no fur. They spend the rest of their quasi-gestational period in mom’s pouch – skin to skin.
Happy Prematurity Awareness month. Hug someone you love to celebrate.
Helping us raise awareness is Uncle Paul – cuddled up Kangaroo style with the muppets’ newborn cousin (a termie born at 37 weeks).