We got to do kangaroo care with Grant!
What is Kangaroo Care?
It’s holding your baby, skin to skin, on your bare chest with a blanket draped over your baby’s back to help keep him/her warm.
Benefits of Kangaroo Care for babies/parents?
For the babies, holding 1 to 4 hours is highly recommended. Human touch is the foundation of infant development. It helps stabilize body temperature, stabilize heart/respiratory rates and oxygenation (decreases spells), enhances and facilitates breast feeding, enhances sleep/wake cycles, promotes longer deeper sleep, improves weight gain, enhances neurobrain development, enhances muscle growth, improves digestion, decreases pain and stress (less crying) and shortens hospital stay.
For the parents, beneficial for breast feeding – increases milk let down, milk production and prolongs duration of breastfeeding. It encourages relaxation and decreases stress, enhances parent’s confidence and competence in caring for the babies, enhances parent/infant attachment and increases parent’s readiness at time of discharge from the NICU.
For both baby & parents, this is a good opportunity to learn each other’s cues, scents, voices, cries etc.
How is Kangaroo Care performed?
I can’t just go and pick up Grant or Hazel and pick them up, there is a lot involved. First the nurse has to determine if our babies can tolerate Kangaroo Care. I was able to FINALLY hold my son, Grant for the 1st time at just 6 days old (gestational age 25 weeks). Let me tell you, holding him for the first time was amazing, wonderful, exciting, emotional and a tiny bit scary.
Vital signs, cares and assessments have to be done before you can hold skin-to-skin. With all of the lines and tubing it takes two nurses to transfer our baby to my chest. Once Grant was placed on my chest they position him in a flexed and tucked position and the nurses secure lines and tubing into place. They had me support Grant’s bottom and head and placed his hands near his mouth. Once we were both settled I was finally able to sit back and relax and just really take it all in and enjoy this amazing and wonderful time. Feeling Grant’s tiny hands and tiny fingers against my chest wiggling around and his tiny legs and tiny toes moving was the best feeling in the world! I thought, finally I am holding my little boy, something I thought at one point in time in the last five years I might never, ever feel. I could have sat their all night with him in my arms, it was so incredible. After the hour was up, the two nurses unsecured the lines and tubing and transferred Grant back into his isolette and put all the lines and tubing back into place and snuggled him back into bed.
The next day, Ryan got to do Kangaroo Care with Grant too. I think he was a bit more nervous than I was, but they did great together. I was so excited and happy for Ryan to be able to hold his son. This time with Grant was cherished and we had many tender moments together. Every baby has their own pace in the NICU, and Hazel has so far has not been stable enough to do Kangaroo Care, but we are hopeful the day will come soon. As they also have their ups and downs, we have only been able to do the Kangaroo Care with Grant just one time each. We are really looking forward to when they can both be held, but everything in good time and when they are ready for it.