This blog is part of our Ultimate Guide to Kangaroo Care. Check it out for more info.
Kangaroo Care is a practice that has proven to be a lifeline for preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Depending on how preterm a baby is, they can be reliant on various forms of medical equipment. These little fighters are often nestled in the NICU or in the PICU, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, if they need continued hospital care. In this blog, we’ll discuss how a premature infant in the NICU or PICU can benefit from Kangaroo Care.
What to Expect in the NICU and PICU
In both NICUs and PICUs, you can expect to see an array of monitoring devices such as blood pressure monitors and pulse oximeters. Depending on the baby's specific needs, they may also be connected to breathing assistance equipment or feeding tubes. Premature Babies in the NICU may be pre-op or post-op, which means they might have bandages, incisions, or other medical interventions in place.
Can You Do Kangaroo Care in the NICU?
But what about Kangaroo Care? Can preterm infants in the NICU or PICU still experience the benefits of this practice even when they're reliant on medical equipment? The answer is, yes, they can. It's important to understand that just because a baby is receiving neonatal care doesn't mean Kangaroo Care is off the table.
Kangaroo Care helps premature infants transition from a cozy environment to the medical world by providing comfort and stability. It regulates their vital functions, fosters their development, and supports an immediate bond with their parent or caregiver.
Challenges with Kangaroo Care in the NICU
The NICU environment can be busy and overwhelming. The constant beeping of machines, the bright lights and the unfamiliar surroundings can be quite unsettling for these tiny patients. Sometimes, it's easy to understand why healthcare providers might be hesitant to recommend Kangaroo Care at a particular moment. They know they might need to assist in moving or repositioning equipment or temporarily disconnecting devices that are not needed during skin-to-skin contact.
However, it's crucial to note that skin-to-skin contact is widely and universally recommended for preterm infants in the NICU, whenever possible.
Considerations for Kangaroo Care in the NICU
The primary consideration for Kangaroo Care in the NICU revolves around medical equipment and the potential need for assistance from medical staff. There are only a few instances where Kangaroo Care might not be feasible. For example, if a baby needs to remain in an incubator with specialized lighting to regulate certain medical conditions, such as jaundice, skin-to-skin contact may not be possible.
Another situation might involve babies with NG tubes or G-tubes for feeding. While Kangaroo Care can still be performed, it may require coordination with the medical team to ensure that these tubes remain in place during the practice.
A Powerful Tool
The NICU and PICU are challenging environments for both babies and their families. Kangaroo Care, with its many benefits, serves as a powerful tool to enhance the well-being of these little ones. While medical equipment and the busy nature of the NICU may pose some challenges, it is essential to discuss the possibilities of Kangaroo Care with the medical staff. The benefits of Kangaroo Care extend to health, development, and bonding, making it a valuable practice for preterm infants, even in the midst of complex medical care.
How Tabeeze Can Help
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