Objective: More and progressively smaller preterm infants are taken out of the incubator and placed skin-to-skin (kangaroo care) on their mother's chest to promote bonding and breastfeeding. The aim of our study was to know the tolerance to kangaroo care and its security for preterm infants and their mothers, as well as its relationship to breastfeeding.
Patients and methods: We studied 445 sessions of 38 stable preterm newborns in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Their mean birth weight was 1,452 +/- 415 g and gestational age 31.5 +/- 2 weeks (mean +/- SD). The preterm infants, dressed in a diaper and cotton cap, were placed in skin-to-skin contact between their mother's breasts in an upright position and covered with a towel. The kangaroo care duration, temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, StcO2, and the mother and infant behavioral responses were recorded. During kangaroo care, the preterm infants were nourished by their mother's milk directly by breastfeeding or by intermittent tube feeding, depending on their sucking reflex. The kangaroo care lasted 30-90 minutes, one to eight times a day depending on the availability of the mother.
Results: During the kangaroo care, body temperatures, heart rate, respiratory rate and StcO2 remained stable. In the majority of cases, In the majority of cases, the preterm infants showed conduct patterns that indicated good tolerance toward this method, including open hand, sleeping, alert tranquility and even smiles. The breastfeeding sessions were longer than normal because the premature infants alternated short periods of sucking with longer sleep periods. Mothers participated actively looking, talking, touching, smiling and even playing with their preterm infants.
Conclusions: Kangaroo care is a safe and well-accepted method for preterm infants admitted to a NICU and their mothers. Intermittent kangaroo care does not allow for breastfeeding by demand, therefore with the smallest preterm infants, we are obligated to supplement feeding with the mother's milk by tube gavage.