Under the warmth of a ‘kangaroo father’ Under the warmth of a ‘kangaroo father’

The accompaniment of the parents in the attention of a premature baby is basic for them to gain weight and to establish a link for their whole life.

Advisor: Juan Manuel Aguilar
Pediatrician Physician at  Universidad CES

It is well known that a premature baby should remain 24 hours a day linked to a human being in order to continue receiving the warmth he/she used to have when in the uterus. Most of the time, this responsibility is assumed by the mothers and in their defect, the grandmothers or aunts, who strengthen the link through skin-to-skin contact, 24 hours a day, in a vertical position. However, making a father to also participate in this process not only creates links for the whole life but also helps a quick recovery of the little one.

Dr. Juan Manuel Aguilar, Pediatrician and Medicine Professor at the Universidad CES, states that “when a father is involved in this practice, he becomes a participant in his baby care and feels he is helping to his little one to succeed and also feels pregnancy outside the uterus, which is the main objective of carrying the baby over the chest” According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each year 15 million premature children born. It is estimated that after birth, more than one million of them die, although 75 percent could survive thanks to  not expensive attention and to some preventive measures.

“It is very important that the baby, since such an early age, learns to recognize his father’s odor, and in addition, men have a temperature degree that can be higher than that of women, and that helps the baby to gain weight faster”, adds the Pediatrician Physician Dr. Aguilar.

However, this task can be a complex one, and in order to explain it the specialist makes some calculations: a premature baby has to eat each every two hours and feeding him/her is not so easy because it can take more than half an hour as the baby is constantly sleeping. In this case, the annoyance increases because, many times, the baby doesn’t know well how to suck, and the mother should extract her milk. In summary: a difficult task that needs to find help and understanding.

Dr. Aguilar assures that the presence of the parents in this job is very low. He sees it at his office and considers that they only attend 10 to 15 percent of scheduled visits. This is why, the concept has changed and now we talk about a kangaroo family for trying others to be involved in addition to the mother, also the father, grandmother, and aunt, because here we are dealing with an exhausting, very heavy care”.

Skin-to-skin

Being a kangaroo father or mother is an act of love. On the chest the child finds an environment very similar to the uterus: the temperature and the sounds to which he/she is used to; the murmur of the air entering to the lungs and the incessant beating of the heart, with which a sensation of tranquility is transmitted that helps the babies to develop. Dr. Aguilar also states that the fact of having the baby on the chest, in a vertical position helps him/her to have less risk of returning food, vomiting and regurgitated food going to the lungs. This stage can be overcome when the baby is weights more than 2,300 grams.

The World Health Organization, in front of this valuable job, adds that it facilitates “frequent breastfeeding and provides constant maternal supervision on her baby. This intervention could save 450,000 lives per year”. To the above, we can add that if the father is present, the mother can concentrate on feeding and resting, because it is well known that this practice consumes energy.

Being kangaroo fathers is a task that helps waking up paternity and family roots, as well as the union among all its members. Promoting this practice allows establishing an unbreakable link for the whole life.

padres-1

This is how the kangaroo position operates:

  • The baby should be in skin-to-skin contact with his/her caretakers for 24 hours a day. The mother, the father, or any other close individual can comply with this mission.
  • It is important for the baby to maintain the vertical position between his/her mother’s breasts and under her clothes. In this way, the purpose is to maintain the baby’s body temperature, performing as an incubator.
  • As Support, a cotton or synthetic fiber elastic support can be used, for the kangaroo father or mother to rest and the little one stays safe and air circulation doesn’t affect as a result of position changes. It is common that premature babies have a fragile muscular tone (hypotonia), and this is why those cloth supports are useful for avoiding the baby’s apneas and allowing him/her to move as they did when they were into their mother’s uterus.
  • As long as the baby remains in contact with his/her caretaker’s skin he can be fed at any time, the mother’s milk also stimulates his/her growth and development.
  • For sleeping, the recommendation is doing it in a semi-sited position, at 30°. The kangaroo position is maintained according to the baby’s tolerance; when the baby sweats in excess, cries, or tries to scratch or cry, these are his/her signals of discomfort.
Source: Guide from the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Colombia

Related: Prevent respiratory disease in premature babies