In Response: Why Do We Recommend Kangaroo Care to New Mothers?
In Monday’s post from the blog site, Expecting Words, came this suggestion, following the description of a friend of hers who had recently been encouraged to have her baby room in and conduct skin-to-skin newborn care rather than have the baby cared for in the hospital nursery:
…I am shocked at this likely cost-cutting scenario billed as natural mothering. This was her second birth at this major NYC hospital. The first time, they had a nursery and she could have some rest. I can only imagine what a first-time mother feels as she endures her two days in the hospital believing that the nurses must be right and that any time her baby is crying it’s because she hasn’t done enough skin-to-skin contact. What a set-up for baby blues and postpartum depression.
Wow. I am sad to think of the women who might read this and believe that their local hospital, in an effort to do something right for moms and babies would be motivated only by budgetary cost-cutting.
Skin-to-skin care, otherwise known as kangaroo care, fosters so much more than relief of work on the hospital nursing staff. Babies kept skin-to-skin remain more stable in terms of body temperature, heart rate and stress hormone levels.
Studies also repeatedly show that newborns attended to via kangaroo care cry less and breastfeed with greater success. Not only do infants held skin-to-skin frequently benefit, but mothers do too. Women utilizing kangaroo care are generally calmer and more relaxed during their interactions with their babies, and report less depressive symptoms than women who do not employ kangaroo care.
My guess is, the hospital mentioned in Expecting Words’ post may have either been working on, or recently achieved Baby Friendly Designation from the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, USA (a program sponsored by both the World Health Organization and UNICEF) and possibly the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative endorsement from the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services. These initiatives are ALL ABOUT improving care and the overall childbearing and early parenting experiences of not only the baby, but the mother as well. Common sense tells us that a well cared for, well educated woman, in terms of immediate postpartum self care and newborn care, will more likely translate into a calmer, happier, more successful mother. And a happier baby, to boot. That’s what kangaroo care is about. That’s what the initiatives described above are about. And, I’m guessing, that’s what the woman’s experience described in this post was all about.
I, for one, am thankful for the hospitals which are beginning to look seriously at these issues, and move forward to implement practices and policies that are both mother and baby friendly.
And on that note…Happy Thanksgiving to all!