International Kangaroo Care Day, a global event celebrated since 2011 by communities that recognise and appreciate caregivers, organisations, and health care providers who support Kangaroo Care, aims to raise awareness both within neonatal units and the community at large and encourages Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) health care providers to adopt Kangaroo Care as a standard of care for all preterm infants.
In November 2017, the Ministry of Child and Family Development awarded Perinatal Services BC, the Women’s Health Research Institute, and the BC Women’s Hospital Foundation funding to support implementation research into enhancing Kangaroo Care in BC NICUs. Since then, staff and parents in 11 NICUs have received training and support to practice Kangaroo Care. Families of preterm infants are provided a Kangaroo Care kit containing family education material and a Kangaroo Care wrap. Wraps are used to support the family to hold their infant for longer periods of time, and keep infants safe, contained, and warm.
Educational resources for caregivers and health care providers are available at each NICU and on Perinatal Services BC’s website. An online education module at UBC Continuing Professional Development
will be available soon.
The importance of Kangaroo Care for the infant and family:
- Helps stabilise temperature, heart and breathing rates
- Supports brain growth and development
- Decreases pain during painful procedures
- Reduces infections by introducing parent’s good bacteria
- Improves quality and duration of sleep
- Enhances early breastfeeding behaviours
- Decreases the parents’ risk of anxiety, stress and depression
- Helps with bonding and attachment
- Increases parents’ confidence in ability to care for their infant
- Improves milk supply and long-term breastfeeding success
For more information on Kangaroo Care please please watch:
Strengthening the practice of Kangaroo Care for all preterm infants in BC helps to improve the care of infants and families during their NICU stay and sets them up for life long success.
- Kangaroo Care refers to the practice of providing (1) early and continuous skin-to-skin contact between a preterm infant and parent, (2) breastfeeding and breast milk feeding, and (3) support for the family and infant without separation and with timely discharge and appropriate follow-up at home.
- During Kangaroo Care, parents, as well as other caregivers, hold their infant against their bare chest for long periods of time, ideally 24 hours a day.
- Kangaroo Care started in Colombia 40 years ago, from the idea of marsupial caregiving where infants are held in a pouch from an early age. Mothers held their low birthweight and preterm infants continuously, providing love, warmth, and nutrition.