Dr Gillian Bogee, a Senior Paediatric Resident at the Neonatal and Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Upper East Regional Hospital, Bolgatanga, has called on mothers of preterm babies to practice Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) to keep babies warm.
She explained that KMC was the act of putting a baby, skin to skin on the mother in a kangaroo position and said “Studies have shown that KMC is a safe way of keeping babies, especially preterm and small babies warm.
“The mother generates heat that regulates the baby’s body temperature. So we would not want to put such a baby in an incubator, that is if the baby is clinically stable, but with low birth weight,” she said.
Dr Bogee, who is also the Head of the NICU, said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency at Sandema, in the Builsa North Municipality at the climax of the World Prematurity month celebration organised by the New-born Care Unit of the Sandema Hospital.
The month of November is usually celebrated as Prematurity month, and this year’s celebration was on the theme; “A Parent’s Embrace; A Powerful Therapy.”
She said KMC had several positive effects on both mothers and babies, and the community as a whole, “When the baby is born and immediately put on the mother, and starts breastfeeding, there is natural release of oxytocin, that even helps us to deliver the mother’s placenta very well.”
That, Dr Bogee said prevented excessive bleeding after childbirth, known as Postpartum Haemorrhage, and the baby also gets colostrum, the first breast milk from the mother which is the first immunisation for the baby.
She emphasised that there would be no need for the use of radiant warmers to keep babies warm, saying the warmer could be too high or too low for babies who were clinically stable if mothers effectively practised KMC.
“The mother’s body temperature automatically regulates the baby’s body temperature. Again, there is bonding between the baby and the mother. Whilst the baby is on the mother having KMC, studies show that it develops the baby’s brain well.”
According to the Head of NICU, KMC also prevented babies from apnea attacks, “That is the baby lies down and forgets to breathe, but when you touch it, it starts to breathe again.
“Because of the mother’s constant heartbeat and movement, it stimulates the baby, so we do not have complications. To top it up, infections are prevented because the baby is always with the mother, we do not have to mix the baby with other babies.”
Dr Bogee said there were limited incubators at the Regional Hospital and across health facilities in the Region, and it was common to see three or more babies in one incubator which should have been for one baby whereas the KMC could help.
“So that is why we are actually advocating that mothers put babies on KMC as studies show that babies put on KMC do well,” she said.
She called on health staff, especially Community Health Nurses who went on home visits, to intensify education on the importance of KMC not only to mothers, but to their husbands and other family members, especially mothers-in-law support preterm baby mothers to practise KMC in their communities.