Why are Kangaroo Care and Skin-to-Skin Contact Important?
A practice gaining in popularity, since it has been shown to be beneficial to babies, is called "kangaroo care." When your baby is strong enough to come out of the isolette, hold him skin-to-skin on your chest. Skin-to-skin means that your baby will be nestled upright between your breasts. He will be clad in only his diaper directly against your skin. Your blouse and possibly a blanket would go around the two of you. Your warmth, smell, and familiar heartbeat will feel like a warm "womb with a view" to your baby. He will be soothed and calmed which will aid in his development. He may start to root for your breast and try to nurse for the first time. Fathers can hold their babies this way too and feel connected.
Research shows that when a baby is held skin-to-skin as described above, he is assisted in maintaining his body temperature. The temperature of the skin on your chest will rise to heat your baby until he is warm, then it will lower again so that your baby stays at the right temperature. Mothers and fathers are unaware that this is happening!
Whenever possible, touch your baby and talk to him. Feed and change him. By providing breastmilk you are giving your baby the very best gift you can. This LEAVEN article gives more information about kangaroo care.
Dr. Nils Bergman, the subject of the article, has a video about kangaroo care in the LLLI Online Store. See the "What Are LLLI Resources For Breastfeeding My Premature Baby?" FAQ for more information about the video.
Contacting an LLL Leader in your area may help you during this challenging time. To find a Group near you, call 1-800-LALECHE, look at our LLL Web Page Index or follow the hints in our page on finding a local LLL Leader.
Our FAQs present information from La Leche League International on topics of interest to parents of breastfed children. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise. If you have a serious breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader. Please consult health care professionals on any medical issue, as La Leche League Leaders are not medical practitioners.