No, we aren’t talking about actual kangaroos…
Today is Kangaroo Care Day. This year will be the 44th year Kangaroo Care has been officially recognised for its incredible benefits for both parent and baby – but parents and caregivers all over the world have been practising it for centuries.
We know how important building that bond is from the very start, even if you can’t hold your baby right away. That’s why, on top of our usual funding, we’re always looking for innovative ways to build that bond between parent and baby, even when they’re in an incubator or intensive care.
When you take part in an event or fundraise for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), your donations aren’t only going towards state-of-the-art equipment and training – they go towards things like weighted hands with a parent’s scent, so babies can be ‘held’ without actually being held; muslins to wrap around a premature baby’s body to keep them warm and help them grow stronger; music therapy to help them explore new senses, sensations and ways to communicate, and so much more.
Health is important – but we know that quality of life and finding joy in the most unlikely places are just as vital, and that’s what we aim to provide for patients and parents alike.
As you’ll see in our Facebook and Instagram posts over the next week, we’ve been celebrating Kangaroo Care Day with some very special guests who are staying just across the road from their babies in our dedicated accommodation for NICU families, Cots for Tots House.
What is kangaroo care?
Kangaroo care is a skin-to-skin technique that has a baby, usually naked except for a hat and nappy, on the bare skin of a parent’s chest. Cuddling together like this isn’t only a lovely experience – it’s got several health benefits for everyone involved. When we went down to visit the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to give out some Cots for Tots Kangaroo Care Day gift packages to parents, we got to see these benefits in action!
Kangaroo care helps by:
- Regulating a baby’s body temperature – your chest will naturally cool down if your baby is too warm and warm up if your baby feels too cold!
- Help weight gain and improve cognitive function – their body can channel those important calories into organ function, cell repair and building strength. These extra calories also help your baby’s brain development.
- Strengthen precious bonds – when you are able to hold your baby, your existing special bond is strengthened.
- Improve oxygen levels – “oxygen saturation” is the amount of oxygen able to get into your baby’s red cells and travel around its body. Higher oxygen saturation means tissue, muscles and organs will grow and repair quicker. When we visited some amazing mums and their babies at the hospital, we all watched as the stats on the monitoring screens slowly crept up to very healthy levels when they were placed on mum’s chest.
- Makes breastfeeding easier – regular kangaroo care also increases your breastmilk supply and makes those breastfeeding sessions much smoother.
Our gift bundles, which included kangaroo care children’s books, a card and a soft, patterned muslin were just one of the ways we’ve been celebrating Kangaroo Care Day (and awareness week) with the staff at St Michael’s.
If you visit this week, you’ll see the whole unit decorated in kangaroo care-themed decorations, as well as some great information on why you should be practising it with your baby or toddler.
Know someone who has benefitted from the amazing care and treatment facilities at St Michael’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit? Or maybe you’ve got a soft spot in your heart for sick or premature babies, and you’d love to do some good?
Come and find out how to fundraise to make a difference to the lives of sick babies and children.