“Low Cost Intervention Yields High Rewards”-by Julie Merker

It’s been a year. It’s funny how 365 days can feel so different to different people. To my older daughter, it’s an eternity (seriously, today I was told that 20 minutes is FOREVER so a year really is a long time). To Babe Dos, my younger daughter, it is literally a lifetime. As we celebrate her first birthday, the last 365 days has been nothing more than a blink of an eye. I find myself reminiscing about those first few weeks…the cuddling, the crying, the beauty and frustrations of caring for a newborn, but mostly the cuddling. The best cuddling for us happened when we were in kangaroo position. This was something that my nurses and midwives encouraged with Babe Dos and I was instantly intrigued and hooked.

Kangaroo Mother Care was established in 1978 in Bogota, Colombia. Dr. Edgar Rey Sanabria encouraged this technique in response to increasing morbidity and mortality rates of infants. At the time, there was a 70% mortality rate for premature infants at Dr. Rey’s hospital in Bogota! This technique freed up resources like incubators and nurses to care for the sickest babies. Kangaroo Care simply entails a caregiver holding the naked infant upright against his or her bare chest with a blanket over the baby’s back.

Not only does Kangaroo Care promote bonding between a parent and child, it also has been shown to improve outcomes for the baby. One study found that it is as effective as incubators for keeping infants with unstable temperature regulation warm(1) . Similar studies have found that Kangaroo Care also helps stabilize the infant’s heart rate and increase weight gain. Benefits extend to the caregiver as well and can be seen in improved bonding, increased milk supply, and increased confidence in the caregiver’s ability to care for the infant(2) .

This simple, virtually no cost technique has been shown to be highly effective across a variety of settings – from low-income developing nations to the most technologically advanced hospitals in the industrialized world. Clevelanders are blessed to have some of the best medical care in the world in our own neighborhoods. I feel additionally blessed that even in the four year span between my first daughter and Babe Dos, the hospital systems appear to be taking a more encouraging stance on simple, natural, techniques to promote health and wellness among infants and caregivers.