Kangaroo care needed for babies, hospitals yet to comply

Health Mortality Neonatal

Due to insufficient medical logistics and lack of space, immediate Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is not being executed properly in hospitals.

Effective Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is not being  implemented properly in hospitals as they do not have mother beds and sufficient medical logistics in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU).

Dr. Suman Rao, Head of Neonatology Department, St John’s Medical College, said they did not have adult beds in NICU to provide immediate KMC to newborns. They have to ask mothers to give KMC after the baby is stabilized in sitting position and encourage them to do it as long as possible, but mothers who give birth through cesarean section, find it difficult to do so.

Kangaroo mother care (KMC) is the care of preterm and low birth weight babies, having maximum skin to skin contact with the mother or surrogate mother. This takes place over periods ranging from six to 24 hours depending on the state of the baby and the mother. KMC are of two types one takes place after the baby is stable and the second is immediate KMC which is right after birth.  It is an effective way to provide warmth to the babies. It promotes breast feeding, protects new-born babies from catching infection, and creates bonding between the mother and the baby.

According to UNICEF, in India 40  percent of neonatal (new born) deaths occur during labour or within 24 hours of birth. The major cause of neonatal mortality is premature delivery. It is said to be responsible for 350 deaths every 1000 births. Infection causes  330 deaths every 1000 births, while birth asphyxia which causes  200 deaths every 1000 births.

Dr. Karthik Nagesh, Neonatologist at Manipal Hospital, said that KMC is provided in the hospital. But, in the NICU there are no adult beds to give KMC; instead the mother had to sit and relax on the chair to provide KMC.

Shraddha Kapile, a mother who gave birth in a prominent private hospital said the nurses were very helpful with breastfeeding the baby but they did not provide her with Kangaroo mother care.

KMC effective in saving lives

Professor and Consultant, Obstetricians and Gynecologists Department at Safdarjung Hospital, Dr. Pratima Mittal said, intensive monitoring is required for all babies, but there is a shortage of monitors and KMC chairs in the NICU. She added that installing extra monitors will need time.

The latest WHO study on Immediate Kangaroo Mother Care, explained that if a 25 percent reduction in neonatal mortality was apparent when KMC was provided to new-born babies right after birth.

Dr. Harish Chellani, a consultant at the pediatric department at Safdarjung Hospital said, “There are many challenges. We need a shift in hospital policy, where we should add mother beds in the NICU and the nurseries. We also need to train the health workers and doctors so that they can better advise new mothers on effective KMC.”

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