Kangaroo Care, when mothers hold their babies in skin to skin contact, has significantly improved the outcomes for babies born prematurely in countries where reliable access to the latest neonatal technology and even to electricity are not guaranteed. While babies born in the UK receive incredible care using state of the art interventions, sometimes it is the warmth of their mother's skin, the sensation of her breathing and the rhythm of her heartbeat that give the most fragile babies the strength to survive.
May is Kangaroo Care Awareness Month with International Kangaroo Care Day events happen around the world on Sunday May 15th. Vija Design UK are teaming up with parenting organisations and charities as well as hospitals and NICUs to raise awareness of the life-saving benefits of Kangaroo Care thoughout May.
Leigh Dumighan, one of our directors experienced the life saving magic of Kangaroo Care first hand when her son, Warwick, was born prematurely. Here is her incredible story.
My Experience of the Life Saving Power of Skin to Skin Contact
(First shared on November 11 2015)
When the day comes to take your 3 week old preemie out of his incubator, release him from the wires and the breathing apparatus and just let him go, it is very surreal but all too real at the same time.
Our teeny weenie was so sick that after several conversations with the Consultants we knew the right thing to do was to let him go and rest peacefully.
We were told he would probably only live for about an hour because he had not managed to breathe unaided for a few days by then. We had him baptised immediately and as soon as we were alone in the room I instinctively placed him on my chest. It was so amazing to have him on me with no wires and cannulas. It was just his precious skin against mine.
He was wearing an apnea monitor so that we would be alerted when he stopped breathing and was about to go. The monitor went off several times and we noticed his upper lip turning a shade of blue.
We were totally unaware of time passing but we did realise that night had come. I needed to go to the toilet so my husband placed our little one back in the incubator to help me up and for the first time we heard a squeal. We realised it was our Wee man. He made sound! He was crying. He didn't want to go back in there! As soon as my husband held him, he stopped crying. He knew what he liked and it wasn't the incubator.
He went back down my top and we all fell asleep. We were woken several times during the night by the monitor when he had stopped breathing. In total it happened 18 times in the first 24 hours. The first few times the monitor beeped we tapped his little chest to remind him to breathe and then after several times we agreed we had to stop doing that because we were going against his wishes in letting him go. It was so hard to sit there and watch him stop breathing but then we would see him gasp and his tiny chest would start moving again. He started breathing all by himself!
The nurses came in every 2 hours to give him his gravity feed and we were just lying together on the bed with our precious person on my chest. If we removed him from my chest for any reason he would instantly cry and then as soon as he made contact with my chest again he stopped. It became quite a cute trick!
We were together in that private room for 8 days and 8 nights. He most definitely lasted longer than an hour! Our little man was on me like glue and when they allowed us to go home with palliative care, he remained in the same place.
Our teeny weenie is our miracle man as he stayed with us. He's now 7 years old and the power of skin to skin is a life saver. He didn't 'suit' the incubator. He wanted real love and touch. He craved Mommy's warmth, safety and smell and he felt content when he had it. It felt normal for him and he felt better when he was on me. He loved it so much that our kangaroo care cuddles made him strong enough to fight to stay with us.
That is my experience of the power of skin to skin.