It is a skin-to-skin contact between baby and mum or dad that allows you to benefit from many benefits: the kangaroo method. This would be particularly appropriate for taking care of premature babies, as the World Health Organization (WHO) reminds us. which publishes its new guidelines in this area a few days before the World Day of Prematurity, which is celebrated each year on November 17. Thus, the latter recommend skin-to-skin contact with the person who takes care of the infant (the “kangaroo mother” method) immediately after birth, without prior passage in the incubator. ” This is a significant change from previous guidelines and current clinical practice, which highlights the significant health benefits of close contact from birth between a premature newborn and the person caring for them, so that they are not separated. “, indicates the organization.
A premature birth takes place before the end of the pregnancy which corresponds to 41 weeks of amenorrhea, that is to say 9 and a half months from the date of the last menstrual period. A child is considered premature if he is born before 37 weeks of amenorrhea (SA), that is to say at 8 and a half months of pregnancy. But according to Inserm, it is important to distinguish between three levels of prematurity: average prematurity which corresponds to a birth occurring between the 32nd and 36th week of completed amenorrhea, severe prematurity corresponding to a birth occurring between the 28th and 32nd WA and very severe prematurity for births occurring before 28 weeks, below 6 months of pregnancy. The premature birth of a child interrupts its development in utero: its organs are present but are immature, mainly the brain, the lungs, the digestive tract and the arterial canal. Thus UNICEF estimates that premature babies run a higher risk of complications, hypothermia, respiratory distress syndrome or cerebral haemorrhages.
The advantages of the kangaroo method for premature babies
However, access to incubators and other treatment methods is often non-existent in developing countries. This is why the WHO relies on the “kangaroo method” which reduces the risk of medical complications and mortality in babies and presents it as a simple and advantageous alternative to the usual methods of treating premature babies inaccessible to many parents. . Many studies have already demonstrated the many benefits that these gentle moments of relaxation provide for children, starting with the fact that they allow them to stabilize their breathing rate, heart rate, body temperature and nutritional needs. ‘oxygen. This method recommended by Colombians since the end of the 1970s would also improve the quality of his sleep as well as his development, with the key to a reduced length of hospitalization. For parents, these moments allow them to foster their attachment by participating in the recovery of their baby, to get to know him better and to contribute to his well-being.
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“ Premature babies can survive, thrive and change the world, provided every newborn can have that chance. », relates Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the WHO. ” These guidelines show that improving the outlook for these tiny infants is not always about providing the most sophisticated solutions, but rather about ensuring access to essential health care centered on the needs of families. The WHO estimates that 15 million children in the world are born prematurely every year, that is more than one in ten births, and that more than 20 million children have a low birth weight. This number is constantly increasing, which makes prematurity the leading cause of death in children under 5 worldwide. Depending on where a premature infant is born, there are significant disparities in their chances of survival. For while in high-income countries most children born at 28 weeks or more survive, the survival rate may not exceed 10% in poorer countries.
“The pandemic has taught us that many women have been wrongfully separated from their children”
What mechanisms can explain the benefits of this method? Because premature babies lack body fat, they have trouble regulating their own temperature at birth and often need medical assistance to breathe. Previously, it was recommended to separate the newborn from the person who mainly takes care of it for a certain time, in order to stabilize it in an incubator for an average of 3 to 7 days. However, the most advanced research now shows that implementing Kangaroo Mother Care immediately after birth helps reduce infections and hypothermia, and helps mothers stimulate and maintain good milk supply to their babies, which contributes to successful breastfeeding. “ The first hug with a parent is not only psychologically important, it is also absolutely essential to improve the chances of survival and the health of low birth weight newborns and premature babies. says Dr. Karen Edmond, physician in charge of newborn health at the WHO.
She adds: the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that many women have been wrongfully separated from their children, which can have catastrophic consequences for the health of infants born prematurely. These new guidelines stress the need to care for families and premature babies together and to ensure that parents receive the best possible support in what is often a stressful time. While these new recommendations are most relevant for people who don’t have access to high-tech equipment or reliable power, they are also relevant for high-income populations. According to the guidelines, we must therefore rethink the way in which neonatal intensive care is provided, so that parents and newborns are never separated. It should be noted that in France, Inserm also estimates that ” children with many “skin-to-skin” contacts with their parents have a more favorable outcome, with an improvement in heart rate, respiratory rate or even sleep. »
As such, how to practice the Kangaroo method safely? It should first be practiced in a medical setting and therefore obtain the agreement of the medical team: some doctors will want to wait until your baby’s health is stable, while others will encourage skin-to-skin contact. From birth. It is possible to discuss your preferences with your doctors before labor, so as not to be disappointed if the baby is not immediately placed on your chest. When it is possible to get started, parents are invited to sit in a chaise-longue in a calm, relaxing atmosphere with slightly dimmed light. The baby is placed against the bare chest but can keep his diaper and hat on and his skin must remain in constant contact with that of the parent, knowing that there are “pockets” which allow him to be placed on the front and well maintain. Thus, the mother or father dresses over the baby, taking care, however, that the latter can breathe adequately. Once the baby’s state of health is stabilized and the method is well assimilated, it can be practiced at home when the family is back home.
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