Healthy Woman:Kangaroo Mother-Care: Therapy for underweight babies

Kangaroo mother-care is a technique where a mother of an underweight newborn places the child on her chest, between her breasts, and uses a piece of cloth to fasten the child close to her heart-beat.  Caroline Ikiriza, nurse and In-charge for the Neonatology department at Muhima Hospital, Kigali, said underweight babies who are less than 2.5 kilograms undergo kangaroo mother-care.
A mother uses the ‘Kangaroo mother-care’ method to hold her premature baby close.  The New Times / File
A mother uses the ‘Kangaroo mother-care’ method to hold her premature baby close. The New Times / File

Kangaroo mother-care is a technique where a mother of an underweight newborn places the child on her chest, between her breasts, and uses a piece of cloth to fasten the child close to her heart-beat.

Caroline Ikiriza, nurse and In-charge for the Neonatology department at Muhima Hospital, Kigali, said underweight babies who are less than 2.5 kilograms undergo kangaroo mother-care.

“This method is especially meant for premature babies who are from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and are still below 2.5 kilograms. The baby’s health should however be in good condition,” Ikiriza said.

With this method, the mother has to always keep the baby tied around her chest, between her breasts to provide warmth.

This method is so helpful since the mother can easily detect when the baby is developing other complications since there is body-to-body contact.

The Kangaroo mother-care system helps to regulate the neonate’s temperature more easily than an incubator. It also provides ready access to nourishment and allows for readily accessible breastfeeding.

Ikiriza, stated that the Kangaroo mother-care system should be implemented in all health facilities that have maternity wards since it drastically improves the health of most underweight babies.

Doctor Felix Sayinzoga, the Maternal and Child Health Officer in Ministry Of Health, also an institutional member of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, Rwanda, plans are in place to increase the number of Kangaroo mother-care facilities country wide. This will be after an assessment on the neo-natalogy services in all health facilities is done.

Dr. Sayinzoga said that Kangaroo Mother-Services in Rwanda started in 2008 and has been an effective tool in reducing the deaths of premature babies.

“There are 27 district hospitals currently using this system in Rwanda, 13 of which are well-equipped,” Dr. sayinzoga said.

Sayinzoga stated that the neo-natal infant mortality rate in Rwanda is still high at 54 percent. However, this is likely to reduce with the improvement of neo-natalogy services which includes increasing the number of Kangaroo Mother-Care wards in all health facilities.

He added that the Kangaroo mother-care method is cost effective since incubators are expensive and it’s hard to buy them for every hospital.

“We have so far trained Community Health Workers from eight districts on how the Kangaroo-mother care method operates, how to recognize danger signs that manifest on babies, checking weight, as well as follow-up,” he explained.

Inyenyeri Digalidi, a resident of Remera and mother of four says she has used this method before and it was effective when it came to helping her child who was born prematurely.

“I was a Kangaroo mother for close to a month and was trained by the nurses on how to do it. Kangaroo mothers are able to help their babies to maintain the right body temperature and bond with their child. A mother can also promptly tell incase of any danger signs,” Inyenyeri said.

She urged all women who give birth to premature babies to embrace this method since it’s not only effective but cheap and easy to follow.

Inyenyeri called upon women to always go for antenatal care and deliver from health facilities in order to detect possible complications at birth.

m.kaitesi@yahoo.com

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