Kangaroo Mother Care at Fernandez Hospital
A nurse helping a mother with Kangaroo mother care (KMC)
Kangaroo mother care (KMC) involves early continuous, and prolonged skin–to–skin contact between a mother and her newborn. The kangaroo pose consists of skin-to-skin contact (SSC) between the mother and the neonate in a vertical position, between the mother’s breasts and under her clothes. It has been proven scientifically that KMC significantly improves the survival in low birth weight (LBW) infants, reduces the risk of severe blood infections, decreases the length of hospital stay, improves breastfeeding, and leads to better physical and brain growth of the baby apart from psychological healing to the mother. Hence, KMC is now considered as the standard of care for low birth weight (LBW) and very low birth weight (VLBW) neonates in all socio-economic settings.
A father giving KMC to a low-birth-weight infant
KMC at Fernandez Hospital
In 2004 Fernandez Hospital introduced a KMC ward. It was started initially at the Boggulakunta unit and later initiated in the other units. At Fernandez Hospital, KMC commences for the VLBW neonate as early as possible, right in the NICU, once the babies are clinically stable and the mother is comfortable. In the absence of a mother, foster KMC is encouraged by other family members. Once the babies are stable, they are transferred to a dedicated KMC ward for continuous KMC. KMC wards attached to the NICUs mimic the home-like environment for the mother-infant and are, in general, low on gadgets and technology.
In the KMC ward, mothers are supported by nurses and nursing aides, but primarily the babies are taken care of by their mothers. This facilitates empowering the mother to care for her baby and allows an early discharge from the health facility. KMC also provides the best developmentally supportive care possible to the neonate and alleviates fear and anxiety in the mother and other caregivers in taking care of these tiny infants. The mothers are encouraged to continue KMC at home.
In our initial study, we looked at the feasibility of caring for stable VLBW neonates on full oral feeds in the KMC ward instead of conventional NICU. The study found that KMC ward care is safe, and neonates had similar growth patterns. It decreased the length of NICU by two weeks. Another study published by Fernandez Hospital showed that stable VLBW infants can be shifted to the KMC ward even at 1100 grams. They had better weight gain, reduced NICU, and hospital stay, with a significant cost reduction of almost 35000 INR per baby (500 USD). The effect was consistent even in extremely low birth weight babies. Around 2000 VLBW neonates have benefitted from the KMC since its inception at Fernandez Hospital.