International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day is held every year on May 15. It’s a global event that shows appreciation for parents, organizations, and healthcare professionals who practice as well as advocate for kangaroo care. It also hopes to raise awareness and bring attention to the positive physiological and psychological benefits of kangaroo care.
History of International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day
International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day (Kangaroo Mother Care or K.M.C.) was first proposed by Dr. Edgar Rey and Dr. Hector Martínez of the Instituto Materno Infantil. This was in response to a high death rate in preterm babies, which was approximately 70% during that time. Due to lack of attention, infants were dying of respiratory problems and infections. Researchers found that babies who were held in close contact with their mothers for large amounts of time during the day did not just survive, but thrived. Wrapping the baby close to their chest looked very much like a mother kangaroo holding her baby in her pouch. It reproduces that nurturing and protective environment.
Its main component, called the kangaroo position, is when the baby is held skin-to-skin against the mother or father’s bare chest. Kangaroo nutrition refers to exclusive breastfeeding whenever possible. When care is continued at home, it’s called Kangaroo discharge. Kangaroo support happens when healthcare staff and family support the mother while practicing K.M.C.
This type of care holds many benefits for babies — improved heart rate, breathing rate, weight gain, and sleep are some of these. They cry less and are less stressed. There’s a decreased risk of infection. Their body temperature is more regulated. Better brain growth also leads to better development overall.
In the United States, hospitals that encourage kangaroo care usually have mothers or fathers practice skin-to-skin contact with their babies for several hours each day. Originally meant as a care plan for preterm or low-weight infants, it’s found to be helpful for full-term babies and their parents as well. Today, skin-to-skin contact is recommended for all infants.
International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day timeline
Dr. Edgar Rey and Dr. Hector Martinez first suggest it in Bogota, Colombia.
Chris Clark is one of the first to try kangaroo care in the United States with her son Danny at a hospital in St. Paul Minnesota.
The Gates couple gives $7,466,490 to the World Health Organization to study the impact of kangaroo mother care for preterm and low-birth-weight babies.
Studies show starting kangaroo mother care immediately after birth can save up to 150,000 more lives each year.
International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day FAQs
When should you do kangaroo care?
If it’s possible, it should be done immediately after birth. It can last throughout the entire postpartum period or around 12 weeks.
What is the core component of kangaroo care?
Skin-to-skin contact is its core component. Other components like breastfeeding and follow-up care are context-specific.
How long is kangaroo care effective?
Practicing kangaroo care for at least an hour is recommended. It can also be done for as long as the mom (or parent) and baby are comfortable.
How to Observe International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day
Donate to charities
Look for legitimate charities. A gift of any amount would be welcomed by organizations.
Hug someone you love
A sincere hug produces the love hormone oxytocin and the “feel good” hormone serotonin. It can reduce stress and make you feel happy. Hug someone you care about — a partner, a friend, or a child. It'll benefit you both.
Help a mom
Volunteer to do childcare, errands, or housework. It’s important that moms feel supported to be able to give the best care to their families.
5 Things To Do Before Starting Kangaroo Care
Make sure you’re healthy
You can pass the illness to your child if you’re sick so it’s best to wait until you’re feeling better.
Take the time you need
Ideally, you should spend at least 60 minutes of skin-to-skin contact with your baby.
Have clean and healthy skin
Don’t use perfume and see to it that you don’t have rashes, cold sores, or open skin lesions.
Steer clear of this unhealthy habit for your baby as well as yourself.
Turn off any gadgets and focus on your baby by using this quiet time to read or sing to them.
Why International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day is Important
It boosts a mom’s confidence in her ability to care for her baby
Handling a newborn can be daunting, more so if it’s your first time. Such close contact with the baby makes a mom feel that she can look after her newborn properly.
It improves the bond between parent and child
Skin-to-skin contact isn’t just for moms and babies. Dads can also participate in kangaroo care.
It increases a mother’s breast milk supply
Breastfeeding an infant can be challenging. Moms have reported an improvement in their milk supply while practicing kangaroo care.
International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day dates