Sister Nokuzola Tutu encourages kangaroo mother care for healthy mother and baby
Sister Nokuzola Tutu is a Staff Nurse at the Nursery and Kangaroo Mother Care Unit in Khayelitsha Hospital. Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is a method of care for new born babies. As part of the Western Cape Government Health Mother Baby Friendly initiative policy, all babies must be placed in the skin to skin position immediately after birth and should remain in that position for at least an hour. This only applies to healthy babies. KMC is an especially important intervention for babies that are born prematurely.
Today is International Kangaroo Mother Care Awareness Day, a global event to highlight the benefits of KMC. KMC is an effective way to help meet a premature baby’s basic needs for warmth, nutrition, stimulation, and protection from infection. Parents of low birth weight less than 2500g or preterm babies born before 37 weeks gestation are encouraged to use KMC which involves continuous skin-to-skin contact with the baby for at least 20 hours every day and exclusive breastfeeding or cup-feeding.
In her work, Sister Tutu mostly deals with premature babies, where she encourages mothers to practice skin to skin contact by putting babies on the chest from the moment after giving birth. “Preterm babies, and full-term babies with low birth weight need extra warmth and support for feeding. Kangaroo Mother Care is a good way of doing this,” says Sr Tutu. “During skin to skin, the baby feels the natural warmth, which is similar to the warmth inside the womb, and it helps to build a bond with the mother,” adds Sr Tutu.
“We are continuously striving to create awareness and improve the standard of KMC for newborn care at all the levels of healthcare, in all settings, within the Western Cape because kangaroo mother care improves growth and reduces morbidities in low birth weight infants. Kangaroo mother care is beneficial for parents because it improves growth and reduces morbidities in low birth infants, it promotes attachment and bonding, helps to promote increased milk production and breastfeeding success. Psychological benefits of kangaroo care for parents of preterm infants are fairly extensive, it is simple, acceptable to mothers and can be continued at home,” says the Minister for Western Cape Government Health Dr Nomafrench Mbombo.
KMC also helps mothers to easily see when there are changes or anything that many affect the baby’s wellbeing. Practicing KMC helps to regulate the baby’s heartbeat, and enhances lactation. Babies have direct access to the breast and can feed at any time. Breast milk lessens the chances of the baby getting sick. “Breast milk is all natural, warm and always at the right temperature for feeding. Breast milk offers endless benefits for your baby, and it supports nutrition for healthy teeth, bones and skin,” explains Sr Tutu. KMC has many advantages, including the reduction of child mortality, because new parents are able to quickly recognise when the baby is not well or struggling with breathing. Babies can also pick up weight quickly during skin to skin. Interaction with baby, breastfeeding, and bonding with baby are critical interventions in the first thousand days of a baby’s life that can impact the baby’s health and development.
Sr Tutu explains that fathers can also play an important role in Kangaroo Care and the first thousand days of a baby’s life. This is a good way for the father to bond with baby. “We also encourage KFC (Kangaroo Father Care) for fathers at home to promote the bond between babies and fathers.” She adds that parents must not stop at the hospital but continue to do the kangaroo care at home.
All Western Cape Government Health facilities have implemented the KMC policy in their facilities.
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