Currently, about 3.6 million infants die every year from various causes. Many of these deaths can be prevented with timely interventions such as better antenatal care, nutrition, avoiding drug use, better delivery facilities and medical personnel as well as Kangaroo Mother Care.
There are four main causes of infant mortality as follows:
1. Neonatal infection:
Infants are highly susceptible to infection after delivery especially if they are born prematurely. The main killer infections are sepsis, pneumonia, diarrhoea and tetanus. Prevention of infant mortality from infections hinges upon improved antenatal care, better health programs, improved hygiene during delivery and thereafter, exclusive breastfeeding and Kangaroo Mother Care(KMC). Some infections such as tetanus, which claims 59,000 infants every year, affect poor families the most. In total, neonatal infections claim about one million infants annually with 15% of this figure being attributed to sepsis. KMC and breastfeeding help to reduce cross-infection in hospital and enhances the development of a newborns immune system.
2. Intrapartum related/Asphyxia:
Intrapartum related deaths or more well known as birth asphyxia refer to complication from labour or haemorrhage. Obstructed labour and/or haemorrhage usually leads to severe injury to the infant which in most cases ends up in the death of the infant and the mother as well. Prevention lies in improving the skills of birth attendant’s and more so on making neonatal resuscitation a core skill. About 800,000 infants die annually due to intrapartum related causes.
3. Complications of premature birth:
Complications arising from premature births account for one-third of all infant deaths worldwide. Most preemies are born between 33 and 37 weeks. Survival demands paying close attention to feeding, body temperature and treating any problems that are identified early. Studies have shown a 51% decrease in infant mortality where Kangaroo Mother Care is used. Prematurity is also a risk factor in the case of neonatal infections because many infants that die as a result of infection are usually also premature.
4. Low birth weight:
Low birth weight is a cause of mortality as well as a risk factor. Any infant below 2,500 grams has a low birth weight. Anything below 1,500 grams is defined as extremely low birth weight. Pre-term babies are almost always underweight. Low birth weight infants stand a high risk of infection and other complications. They also experience developmental delays which can stretch into adolescence. Kangaroo Mother Care is the preferred method of care for low birth weight children as it assists them to stabilize and regulate body temperature.
Kangaroo Mother Care, when implemented, goes a long way in reducing deaths associated with premature and low birth weight children. Evidence already exists that up to half the deaths attributed directly to pre-term delivery can be reduced and up to a quarter of the deaths attributed to infections.
Charitable organizations are making efforts to teach mothers in third world countries about the benefits and practices associated with kangaroo mother care. In doing so, they have reported surprising results that reveal the effectiveness of this primal form of newborn care.
Many struggling populations, throughout the world, have high infant mortality rates. These countries are stricken with disease and premature birth, but some charitable organizations are making great strides through education.
What is Kangaroo Mother Care?
Kangaroo Mother Care is a technique that was initially practised in 1983 in Bogota, Columbia. It was a means to combat the lack of resources in local hospitals to tend to premature babies. It involves placing the diaper-clad baby on to the bare chest of the mother, to promote skin-to-skin contact. Usually, doctors turn the head of the baby in such a way that the preemie’s ears are just above the heart of the mother. This is very crucial to stabilize the vital signs of the baby.
In countries like Malawi and India, cost-effective newborn care is difficult to find. Kangaroo Mother Care program. The Living Proof Project is finding success in reducing infant mortality through teaching kangaroo mother care. A simple method of wrapping the newborn or preterm baby to the mother’s bare chest, kangaroo care is based on the kangaroo’s instinct to carry their young in their pouches. New mothers can breastfeed and keep their babies warm while providing them with protection from the outside elements. Premature infants, who have arrived as early as 14 weeks before their expected due date, have thrived using this method and without the use of any technology.
The charitable organization began the Kangaroo Mother Care program, with assistance from USAID, to battle the high infant mortality rates in certain countries throughout the world. They focus on struggling countries in Africa,Asia and South America, but also have implemented programs in Europe and other middle-class regions. The country of Malawi, in particular, has benefited greatly from the newborn care education programs provided by the charity. Many of the hospitals in Malawi now teach mothers in their communities about the value of kangaroo mother care and have seen a dramatic decrease in hospital-related newborn infections and premature birth-related deaths. The charitable organisation also has an interest in developing these programs in middle-class countries, because they have the potential to dramatically decrease infant mortality in all classes and societies.
The Living Proof Project is a global outreach program to help bring quality health care to struggling populations. They have helped to promote the efforts of the Kangaroo Mother Care program and donate their time and money generously to aid in the education of mothers across the globe. The Living Proof Project recently released a video and photo series that documents the importance of the human incubator. The video includes the testimonials of mothers who have experienced success using this method of newborn care. By eliminating the need for incubators, and using the human body as the vital heat source for preterm babies, the infant mortality rates throughout the world are beginning to decrease. It is the hope of The Living Proof Project to gain support for this method of newborn care, to help educate the world on the importance and decrease infant mortality.
Through these efforts charitable organisation estimate they have the potential to reduce infant mortality by 51% on a global level. This simple practice could be the key to eliminating infant death and promoting natural newborn care.
Benefits of Kangaroo Mother Care
kangaroo Mother Care helped in lowering infant mortality rates from 70% to an astounding 30%.
Preemie babies need to be incubated immediately after birth since their body lacks the ability to store heat because their immune system is compromised. But as a result of this sudden separation from their mother, the infant feels stressed in the unfamiliar environment, and to cope with this loss, the body starts to produce cortisol.
Although cortisol allows the baby to fight off anxiety with some success it hampers growth, which is much needed at this stage.
A newborn recognizes the scent and touch of his mother as soon as he is born.
As Kangaroo Mother Care involves increased skin-to-skin contact, the baby is comforted with the presence of his mother.
This familiarity accelerates the production of growth hormones, so much so that preemie babies show the same progress as infants born after the full term, after about two months.
Practising Kangaroo Mother Care also keeps the baby warm.
The mother’s body is believed to alter heat levels in response to the requirements of her child. Also, due to proximity to the breasts lactation is encouraged, since the baby can readily feed off his mother conveniently.
Some chemical responses inside the mother’s body also stimulate milk supply when the Kangaroo Mother Care technique is practised.
However, contrary to popular belief that Kangaroo Mother Care is only beneficial for premature infants.
It holds many benefits for “normal” children as well. For one, the immune system grows stronger, since attachment is enhanced.
It also encourages bonding between caregivers and children, for the constant physical touch serves as a sense of security to the baby.
Kangaroo Mother Care can be established as a routine during the early months of the baby, and should also be adopted by dads to enhance their relationship with their child.
It is best to give maximum time to the baby; some doctors even recommend that this technique be practised for the entire day in the case of premature babies.
However, this is not necessary as even a few hours a day deliver favourable results.
Kangaroo Mother Care-A low birth weight Neo-Natal practical solution
At what weight can a newborn infant be classified as a low birth weight baby? Generally, the universally accepted weight for a baby is less than 2.5 kilos or 5.5 pounds. Any baby is born weighing less than this is considered to have a low birth weight. Generally, the normal weight of a baby by 37 weeks of gestation is 2.5 kilos.
How Does Low Birth Weight Harm the Baby?
This is dangerous because it predisposes the newborn baby to several dangers.
The most immediate danger can be death as a result of the risk of infections and other complications.
Low birth weight babies are usually underdeveloped. In fact, the large majority of these babies are born prematurely.
As a consequence, their immune systems are still fragile.
And susceptible to infection.
Underweight babies can also suffer from developmental delays.
Most parents find that babies born pre-term and/or with low birth weights tend to have delays in developmental milestones.
Their speech may be delayed, they may not sit up, crawl and walk as fast as another baby of the same age.
This can stretch into adolescence and if not managed correctly, it can hurt the child’s psychological state.
Babies who are given often reach developmental milestones without any complications.
Causes of Low Birth Weight
There are several causes of low birth weight. Some of the leading causes include the following:
The mother may have a small uterus which may limit the growth of the fetus. This is common in teenage pregnancies especially where the girl is under the age of 17
This is also common in many first-time pregnancies5 FORMULA MILK BENEFITS: DOSAGE AND PREPARATION
Congenital and/or chromosomal anomalies can lead to an underweight infant.
Placental problems in the womb where the placenta is unable or prevented from providing sufficient nourishment
to the child.
Some infections during pregnancy have a direct impact on the eventual weight of the child. These include; rubella,
Syphilis, toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus.
There are also risk factors that predispose mothers from giving birth to underweight children. One of the most common is multiple pregnancies. A mother carrying twins, triplets, quadruplets and so forth is at a greater risk of giving birth to underweight children. The risk doubles with every additional child in the womb. Another risk factor is the mother has a history of giving birth to low birth weight children. The use of narcotics and alcohol is also a major risk factor as is smoking. Other risk factors include lead poisoning and poor prenatal care.
In the unexpected event that you do give birth to a low birth weight or premature baby, do not despair, Kangaroo Mother Care improves the chances of infant survival by more than 50%. It basically involves skin-to-skin contact between the mother and child. It has been proven to help the child regulate bodily temperature, breathing and pulse rate in addition to feeding better.
Newborn Baby’s uniqueness
Just like a snowflake or a fingerprint, your newborn baby child is unique in their very own special way. Every baby is born different. They have a unique way of adapting, feeling, thinking, learning and interacting with others and particularly you as their Mom and Dad. Some babies are quiet and reserved, while others are more demanding and outward in their personality, needs and behaviour. Every baby is born with a different disposition and personality and it is through the bonding that occurs that you will get to really know your baby.
Some babies are active, while others are calm; some are fretful, while others are easy-going. It can vary so much and each baby that you have will be different and unique. That’s what makes motherhood and fatherhood so interesting. As a loving and nurturing parent, it’s your job to encourage your baby to develop in a safe and secure habitat and embrace their uniqueness and their individual qualities. Through cuddling and spending time in skin to skin contact with your baby, you create a safe and secure environment: a habitat they will flourish and thrive in.
Encourage and allow your baby to express themselves as they grow and develop. Play with them, read to them, talk to them and while you are feeding them play gentle, soothing and relaxing music. Spend time with them and love them and practice KMC cuddles as often as you can. As your baby grows encourage them to explore and embrace their curiosities. This is how they develop emotionally and neurologically. Take note of what they get pleasure and joy from. By doing this you will help your baby to learn that they are safe and secure with you and that they are free to grow and develop in a safe, loving and nurturing environment.
Teach your baby and praise them; give them loving KMC cuddles. Encourage them through your voice and talking to them. This will let them know that you love and they will feel this through your voice and actions. Accept and celebrate your baby’s uniqueness. Remember that your baby is an individual, an individual that will grow and develop in your nurturing love and cuddles.
Reinforce positive behaviour and establish and stick to routines that work for you both, including time out for bonding skin to skin. It’s all about providing the right habitat for your baby to adapt, grow and develop into a loving and caring child through the love and care you give to them through Kangaroo Mother Care.
Kangaroo Mother Care and Post Natal Depression
Kangaroo mother care (KMC) has been studied now for over thirty years. KMC involves skin to skin contact between the mother and the newborn, specifically having the baby positioned on the mom’s chest in an upright position. The concept originates from the Australian marsupial (kangaroo) which carries its baby (Joey) in a pouch for approximately four months after birth. The interaction between mom and baby means that baby relies on mom’s warmth, love and nutrition. Many studies have shown that KMC is an invaluable therapy for both the newborn baby and the new mom. So what is the research saying about KMC and Postnatal Depression (PND)? Well, back in 2007 Brazilian researchers published a study in the Oxford Tropical Paediatrics, concluding that Kangaroo Mother Care can prove helpful in warding off Postnatal Depression. The researchers studied mothers whilst they were providing Kangaroo Mother Care and the results were stunning. Not one mother developed signs of postpartum depression during this time. That’s right! Not one mother developed or suffered from any form of postnatal depression. The World Health Organization (WHO) published an article that focused on the bonding and the encouragement of breastfeeding through Kangaroo Mother Care. With the newborn baby lying in the prone position on the mom’s chest, many of the typical after-birth examinations and procedures can be conducted easily, whilst maintaining that bond between newborn baby and mom. In fact, in 2006 there was a new mother-To-Infant bonding (MIB) scale introduced, and compared with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EDPS), women that scored low on the MIB scale were scoring higher on the EPDS scale. The same was true of women who scored low on the EPDS scale, where they scored higher on the MIB scale. Kangaroo Mother Care increases the production of Oxytocin through the skin-to-skin contact between mom and the baby. This Oxytocin is what is often called the “cuddle” or “love” hormone, and it is believed that oxytocin helps to ward off symptoms of postpartum depression. All of this is very compelling information that hospitals and birthing settings should be taking into consideration. Mothers of newborns need to be encouraged to use KMC from the moment of birth. It is common knowledge that the first hours of life are extremely important for the mother-baby bonding process. Did you know that if a newborn baby and mom are separated, there is a risk if bonding failure and that the likelihood of successful ongoing breastfeeding is reduced? The fact that KMC requires no drugs, chemicals or other things that can interfere with the natural mother newborn relationship, and that the research has shown KMC to be very beneficial, makes it a natural option for all new moms especially in reducing the potential for PND. Now it is safe to say that all studies show KMC is beneficial and positive for both mom and baby.
conclusion: Kangaroo Mother Care shows early and good weight gain in low birth weight babies. It is a simple, low-cost technique and well acceptable by mother and family and can be continued at home.