Friday, 15 August 2008

Kangaroo Care

My niece was born in week 28 of my sister's pregnancy, 12 weeks premature. I was here in Sweden at the time and mum sent me multitudes of photos so I could follow what was happening. I have an album here that the kids look at occasionally.

I can hardly look at the photos.....

To see this infant, my niece, so tiny, so fragile. Weighted down those first hours so she would not do damage to herself.

But as you flip the pages of the album you can follow her growth, her development. She went from this "thing" clinging to the edge of life, to the strong, healthy girl she is today, almost 10 years later.

My niece is a strong, determined, stubborn person. Her mother is the same. And she owes her life to these very qualities, without them she would not be here.

Ellandi was born to dedicated parents who spent every possible minute with her. They gave up their lives, their friends and their income, to care for their daughter. They sat with her day and night, her tiny hands gripping their fingers. They sang for her, told her stories and read to her. Their devotion was unconditional.

Tears will well in Athena's eyes as she reads this, that much I am sure of. Naturally it was a life-altering experience, even more so than most of us experience with the birth of our first child.

She attributes the success, not only of Ellandi's survival, but also her strong health, to two things - Kangaroo Care and good nutrition as she got older. She touched her daughter in some way, every moment during the 10-12 hour days with her. They made sure Ellandi knew her parents were there for her.

So of course the article about the Kangaroo Pouch and method, caught my attention this morning as I read the paper. I was also surprised and pleased to read about the first ever European Conference on Kangaroo Mother Care being held this October - here is Sweden!
The conference is being hosted by The Academic Hospital in Uppsala, who according to the article, are one of the forerunners in using the method in Sweden.

It seems the method, having been first used in Colombia in the '70s, and introduced to Sweden in the late '80s, is experiencing a revival worldwide. Research has shown that it is as successful than the incubator, in some cases, better. The skin to skin contact enables the infant to maintain a steady temperature, pulse, breathing and oxygen intake. Research shows that breast-feeding is established much faster and the child is more harmonious. They cry less and have a higher pain tolerance than infants cared for by traditional methods, separated from thier parents.

It is good news all round. It goes to show, machines just can't replace people, at least not in every case. We sure are glad that Ellandi is a Kangaroo baby!


  1. I feel you, Felix was born more than 8 weeks early & spent his first 3 weeks in the hospital with no relatives allowed to visit, we spent every awake hour at the hospital until we were allowed to bring him home! The kangaroo method was what we used & I believe it makes all the difference, you can't replace parents with machines afterall! When I look at old photos of him now they scare me a bit as he looks like a little chicken, at the time I of course thought he was the most beautiful thing in the world & held him him as if it was my only goal in life, luckily enough he never needed the incubator!

  2. Wow! Felix too huh? Another set of dedicated parents. Funny how true the statement is - beauty is in the eyes of the beholder...

  3. 12 years on now nearly thirteen, you're right Nic tears well in my eyes as I read your lovely words. An experience so long ago yet the emotion sits just upon my shoulders. The strong will and determination ever present today as it was back then! Thank god for life, machines and Kanga care. I came across this post as I was searching for an old friend who I sat with Day after day and night after night as we watch our daughters grow from birth to home in a hospital where we became part of the furniture.

    Thanks for writing this XXX Athena