Holding your baby in the NICU
Some newborn intensive care units (NICUs) will encourage you to hold your baby from birth onward. Other NICUs will want you to wait until your baby’s health is stable. Ask your NICU staff about its policy on kangaroo care.
Kangaroo care is the practice of holding your diapered baby on your bare chest (if you’re the father) or between your breasts (if you’re the mother), with a blanket draped over your baby’s back. This skin-to-skin contact benefits both you and your baby.
You may be a little nervous about trying kangaroo care. If your baby is very small or sick, you may be afraid you’ll hurt him. But you won’t. Your baby knows your scent, touch and the rhythms of your speech and breathing, and he will enjoy feeling that closeness with you. Kangaroo care can help your baby:
• Maintain his body warmth
• Regulate his heart and breathing rates
• Gain weight
• Spend more time in deep sleep
• Spend more time being quiet and alert and less time crying
• Have a better chance of successful breastfeeding (kangaroo care can improve the mother’s breastmilk production)
Kangaroo care has emotional benefits for you, too. It builds your confidence as you provide intimate care that can improve your baby’s health and well being. You are giving something special to your baby that only you can give. By holding your baby skin-to-skin, you will feel the experience of new parenthood and closeness to your baby. Kangaroo care is healing in many ways, for both you and your baby.
Kangaroo care is safe and beneficial, even if your baby is connected to machines. Whatever your situation, kangaroo care is a precious way to be close to your baby. You will cherish this time.