Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC)
Kangaroo mother care is a method of care of preterm infants and small for gestational age babies (weight below 2500g). The method involves infants being carried, usually by the mother, with skin-to-skin contact. KMC aims at empowering the parents/caregivers. Studies have found that kangaroo mother care (KMC) done at health facilities can prevent up to half of all deaths in babies weighing less than 2500g, and these make up more than 80% of preterm births.
KMC – which involves prolonged skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, exclusive breastfeeding, and supportive care for the mother – is currently viewed as one of the highest impact interventions in preterm care and is considered to be highly feasible to scale up in low-resources settings. Compared with incubator care, KMC has been found to reduce severe infection/sepsis, nosocomial infections, hypothermia, severe illness, lower respiratory tract disease, and length of hospital stay.
Babies cared for using KMC also show improved weight gain and growth, head circumference, breastfeeding, and mother-infant bonding compared to babies in incubator care. Our own experience in eastern Uganda supports these findings. As part of the Uganda Newborn Study (UNEST), we started a KMC unit in the Iganga District Hospital using an existing room in the maternity unit (Waiswa, Nyanzi et al. 2010; Waiswa, Peterson et al. 2010; Mbonye, Sentongo et al. 2012). There is an on-going study focusing on setting up functional KMC units in all hospitals in Busoga region.