Kangaroo mother care for term babies

Kangaroo mother care for term babies?

Until recently the emphasis has been on the importance of kangaroo mother care (KMC) for premature babies (babies born too soon). Babies born at 37 weeks up to 42 weeks are considered as term babies, meaning that they are ready to be born. They are generally stronger and more stable than a premature baby. When you deliver a term baby, a nurse or doctor will place your baby skin-to-skin with you right after birth for one hour. This is a pre-requisite for all baby-friendly hospitals. Placing your baby in this manner not only starts your maternal instincts, but also helps you to establish early direct breastfeeding.

However, the first hour of skin-to-skin right after birth is not considered kangaroo mother care yet. Kangaroo mother care is prolonged skin-to-skin of baby on mother’s (or father’s) chest done many times a day for a minimum of 60 minutes each time. Therefore, after you leave the delivery room and go to the post-natal ward, you can allow your baby to be placed skin-to-skin with you instead of placing baby in the basinet beside you. Lie in bed and prop yourself up to about 30 degrees and enjoy your baby sleeping and wakening on your chest. 

If you are in an open post-natal ward, consider whether you want to ask the healthcare workers for screens or curtains to enclose a space for you to be alone with your baby when you perform KMC. Read here about continuing KMC after you go home

Most of the benefits of KMC seen in premature babies apply to a term baby and the parents of a term baby. There is no evidence showing KMC is harmful to a term baby.

Research articles 

Charpak, N., de Calume, Z. F., & Ruiz, J. G. (2000). “The Bogotá Declaration on Kangaroo Mother Care”: conclusions at the second international workshop on the method. Second International Workshop of Kangaroo Mother Care. Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway : 1992), 89(9), 1137–1140. https://doi.org/10.1080/713794578

Ropars S, Tessier R, Charpak N, Uriza LF. The long-term effects of the Kangaroo Mother Care intervention on cognitive functioning: Results from a longitudinal study. Dev Neuropsychol. 2018 Jan;43(1):82-91. doi: 10.1080/87565641.2017.1422507. PMID: 29377735.

Taneja S, Sinha B, Upadhyay RP, Mazumder S, Sommerfelt H, Martines J, Dalpath SK, Gupta R, Kariger P, Bahl R, Bhandari N, Dua T; ciKMC development study group. Community initiated kangaroo mother care and early child development in low birth weight infants in India-a randomized controlled trial. BMC Pediatr. 2020 Apr 4;20(1):150. doi: 10.1186/s12887-020-02046-4. PMID: 32247311; PMCID: PMC7126178.