November 17, 2018 marks the 10 year anniversary of global recognition of World Prematurity Day. According to the BC Perinatal Data Registry, approximately 11% of babies in BC are born preterm and require special care. This year's global theme focuses on the importance of creating partnerships and working together to support the care of premature and low birth weight newborns.
Perinatal Services BC recognises World Prematurity Day through the activities of the Kangaroo Care initiative. Kangaroo Care is the practice of holding a preterm infant against a parent's chest, allowing skin-to-skin contact. A wrap is often used to secure the baby. Kangaroo Care consists of early and prolonged skin-to-skin contact, support for breastfeeding to provide human milk, and support of the mother-infant dyad and family without separation. Health outcomes for preterm or low birth weight babies are improved with increased frequency and duration of Kangaroo Care.
For preterm infants the benefits of Kangaroo Care are incredibly varied and important. Benefits include stabilised heart and breathing rates, temperature regulation, decreased pain and stress, improved quality and duration of sleep, support for breastfeeding and support for brain growth and development. Research demonstrates that children who received Kangaroo Care as an infant have improved cognitive functioning and behavioural and attention measures.
For mothers, Kangaroo Care is shown to decrease the risk of maternal anxiety and depression, improves breast milk supply and rates of breastfeeding exclusivity and duration. For both mothers and partners, the research indicates that Kangaroo Care promotes bonding and attachment, improves parental confidence in their ability to care for their baby, and reduces stress associated with NICU stays. The practice of Kangaroo Care supports love, bonding and feelings of connection between parents and baby.
In partnership with the regional health authorities of BC, we are working to strengthen the practice of Kangaroo Care by increasing awareness and knowledge of health care providers and families. To learn more about the impact of Kangaroo Care on parents and babies in the NICU, PSBC invites the community to view Kangaroo Care through a parent's eyes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cq8aj_4zbA&t=134s