If you work in the neonatal intensive care unit, one of the things that you are going to do is to work with parents of those preemie babies and their preemies. Your goal is to make sure that the child is stable and ready to go home to be safe and healthy. There are a number of ways that you can help the parents and the babies. One of those is to help the parents with kangaroo care.
Kangaroo care is a very simple thing. It's when the parent or other carer takes the baby and holds them skin to skin. Generally, the adult opens up the top of their shirt and the baby, wearing just a diaper, is slid down on the adult's chest and then covered back up under a blanket or the adult's shirt or clothing. It's called kangaroo care because it's reminiscent of a baby kangaroo in their mother's pouch, where they are kept safe, warm, and protected. When parents ask you why they should do kangaroo care or what the benefits are, there are a lot of things that you can tell them.
One reason to do it is that it can help promote bonding between parent and child. Those first few days of life are important to the bond between parent and child. The babies heard their mother's heartbeat in utero and their parents' voices. When the baby is held on their mother's chest, they will hear that heartbeat that helped sustain them for all those months and they will hear their parents talking to them and recognize their voices, which can help that bond settle into place.
Even young babies can feel pain. There are people who think that they can't feel any pain because their nervous systems aren't complete, but that isn't true. Those neonates can suffer pain, and it's hard to give those babies pain relief because there aren't pain medications that are tested for babies that little and it's not safe to give them anything that might depress their systems even more. However, that skin-to-skin contact can help the baby hurt less. It can also be a good time for various procedures like heel sticks or blood draws to be done because that contact can soothe the baby.
As a person who works in a NICU, the babies and their parents are your patients and your goal is to help them get healthy so that they can go home safely. Kangaroo care is just one of the tools you can use.
For more information on neonatal careers, contact an organization like Kidz Medical Services.