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 What is Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC)

Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is a special way of caring of low birth weight babies. It fosters their health and well being by promoting effective thermal control, breastfeeding, infection prevention and bonding.

In KMC, the baby is continuously kept in skin-to-skin contact by the mother and breastfed exclusively to the utmost extent, KMC is initiated in the hospital and continued at home.

The two components of KMC are:

  • Skin-to-skin contact: 
    Early, continuous and prolonged skin-to-skin contact between the mother and her baby is the basic component of KMC. The infant is placed on her mother's chest between the breasts.

  • Exclusive breastfeeding: 
    The baby on KMC is breastfed exclusively. Skin-to-skin contact promotes lactation and facilitates the feeding interaction.

The two pre-requisites of KMC are:

  • Support to the mother in hospital and at home: 
    A mother cannot successfully provide KMC all alone. She would require counseling along with supervision from care-providers, and assistance and cooperation from her family members.

  • Post-discharge follow up: 
    KMC is continued at home after early discharge from the hospital. A regular follow up and access to health providers for solving problem are crucial to ensure safe and successful
    KMC at home.

Benefits of KMC

  • Breastfeeding: 
    Studies have revealed that KMC results in increased breastfeeding rates as well as
    increased duration of breastfeeding. Even when initiated late and for a limited time during day and
    night, KMC has been shown to exert a beneficial effect on breastfeeding.

  • Thermal control: 
    Prolonged skin-to-skin contact between the mother and her preterm/ LBW infant
    provides effective thermal control with a reduced risk of hypothermia. For stable babies, KMC is at
    least equivalent to conventional care with incubators in terms of safety and thermal protection.

  • Early discharge: 
    Studies have shown that KMC cared LBW infants could be discharged from the
    hospital earlier than the conventionally managed babies. The babies gained more weight on KMC
    than on conventional care.

  • Less morbidity:
    Babies receiving KMC have more regular breathing and less predisposition to apnea.
    KMC protects against nosocomial infections. Even after discharge from the hospital, the morbidity
    amongst babies managed by KMC is less. KMC is associated with reduced incidence of severe illness
    including pneumonia during infancy.

  • Other effects: 
    KMC helps both infants and parents. Mothers are less stressed during kangaroo care as compared with a baby kept in incubator. Mothers prefer skin-to-skin contact to conventional care. They report a stronger bonding with the baby, increased confidence, and a deep satisfaction that they were able to do something special for their babies. Fathers felt more relaxed, comfortable and better bonded while providing kangaroo care.

To know more about KMC, click here to view/download the KMC Network Manual.


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