Friday, August 27, 2010

Kangaroo Mother Care Saves 2lb Premature Twin, Baby Jamie

By Danelle Frisbie © 2010


We've seen it before - a preemie, even micropreemie - saved by his mother's loving touch, warmth, milk, and kangaroo care.

For Kate Ogg, of Sydney, Australia, the life changing event came in the hospital after a mere 3 hour labor when doctors gave up hope of saving her baby boy. He was born a twin at just 27-weeks gestation and weighed 2 pounds. While Ogg's first twin, Emily, was doing well, doctors could not get her second twin - Jamie - breathing. After 20 minutes of failed attempts, they declared him dead. Ogg relayed:

The doctor asked me had we chosen a name for our son. I said, "Jamie," and he turned around with my son already wrapped up and said, "We've lost Jamie, he didn't make it, sorry." It was the worse feeling I've ever felt.


As Ogg tearfully held her son, she told him how much she loved him, held him close, and did not want to let him go. Giving up on a miracle, Ogg says:

I unwrapped Jamie from his blanket. He was very limp. I took my gown off and arranged him on my chest with his head over my arm and just held him. He wasn't moving at all and we just started talking to him. We told him what his name was, and that he had a sister. We told him the things we wanted to do with him throughout his life. Jamie occasionally gasped for air, which the doctors said was a reflex action. But then I felt him move, as if he were startled, and then he started gasping more and more regularly. I gave Jamie some breastmilk on my finger, he took it, and then started regular breathing.

For two hours Ogg continued to hold her son close - touching, hugging, speaking to him, and offering him drops of her milk. Soon, he was beginning to show signs of life.

I thought, "Oh my God, what's going on?!" A short time later he opened his eyes. It was a miracle! Then he held out his hand and grabbed my finger. He opened his eyes again and moved his head from side to side. The doctor kept shaking his head saying, "I don't believe it, I don't believe it. I turned to my husband and said, "He might live! We might be the luckiest people ever."

Although Ogg had her twins in March of this year, she has not spoken to the public about their birth until yesterday. She said that she now wished to talk with others about the importance of skin-to-skin contact for babies - especially for sick and premature babies.


Kangaroo care is being used in an increasing number of hospitals around the UK and Australia (it is still, unfortunately, less commonly used in North America where hospitals routinely place sick and preemie babies into NICU tubs and tell mothers they cannot hold them).

The kangaroo care technique was termed such due to the way that kangaroos hold their tiny, helpless (hairless) joeys in their pouch - close to their bodies - to keep them warm and regulate all their immature body functions. In this way, kangaroo mothers keep their babies safe, nourished, and in the environment in which they optimally grow. For human babies (and other mammals) the same is often true -- preemies and sick babies thrive best, recover fastest, and handle treatment the easiest when they are allowed constant skin-to-skin contact with their mothers. Her body keeps baby warm, stimulated (breathing, heart beating, etc.) and fed.

Kangaroo care is so instinctual, in fact, that almost all mammals participate in it (just watch a cat with her new kittens or dog with her newborn puppies). Kangaroo care (sometimes called "Kangaroo Mother Care" or "KMC") benefits ALL babies in several ways.

*KMC babies stabilize faster with skin-to-skin care than in an incubator (very few newborns stabilize well within an incubator during the first fragile hours of life).

*KMC babies have stable oxygen rates and breathing thanks to the steady regulation of mother's respiration.

*A KMC baby's heart rate is stable (mother's heartbeat regulates baby's heartbeat).

*A baby's temperature is most stable on his mother - in skin-to-skin care mother's chest automatically warms to warm a cold baby, while her core temperature drops if baby is too warm and needs to be cooled.

*Sleeping within an arm's reach of baby (as long as a parent does not smoke and baby is on a safe surface) also regulates all of his physiological needs in the same way - they are kept steady thanks to Mom's warm, even-paced body. We lose far fewer babies to prematurity, irregularity of breathing or heartbeat after birth, and SIDS all with the natural help of skin-to-skin holding, side-by-side sleeping, or kangaroo care.

Preemie, low birth weight, and ill babies whose mothers practice skin-to-skin care regularly have lower rates of infection, less severe illness when it does occur, improved sleep, and better regulated body temperature. More effective than any plastic incubator is mother's body!


Today, Jamie is a healthy five month old baby. Ogg held him while she was interviewed on Today Tonight, an Australian television show, which was graciously sent to DrMomma.org from our Aussie readers (below).


At the end of the segment, Ogg's husband chimed in about his wife's powerful mothering, "Luckily I've got a very strong, very smart wife. She instinctively did what she did. If she hadn't done that, Jamie probably wouldn't be here."

And that is true indeed!

Yeah for mothers doing what they do best - instinctively - loving their newborns deeply, strongly, unconditionally - even when all seems lost. Even, and maybe especially, when our babies are super tiny and super fragile or super sick. Nothing heals like a mother's touch, a mother's love, and mother's milk.


Kangaroo Mother Care Notes

The process of holding a baby on one's chest, skin-to-skin, is referred to as Kangaroo Mother Care. However, it is a practice that all mammals participate in naturally (watch a cat with her new kittens or dog with her newborn puppies). Kangaroo Mother Care benefits all human babies as well, and especially NICU babies, in several ways.

*KMC babies stabilize faster with skin-to-skin care than in an incubator (very few newborns stabilize well within an incubator during the first fragile hours of life).

*KMC babies have stable oxygen rates and breathing thanks to the steady regulation of mother's respiration.

*A KMC baby's heart rate is stable (mother's heartbeat regulates baby's heartbeat).

*A baby's temperature is most stable on his mother - in skin-to-skin care mother's chest automatically warms to warm a cold baby, while her core temperature drops if baby is too warm and needs to be cooled.

*Sleeping within an arm's reach of baby (as long as a parent does not smoke) also regulates all of his physiological needs in the same way ~ they are kept steady thanks to Mom's warm, even-paced body. We lose far fewer babies to prematurity, irregularity of breathing or heartbeat after birth, and SIDS all with the natural help of skin-to-skin holding, or Kangaroo Care.

Read more about the skin-to-skin benefits for all babies (full term and premature) at KangarooMotherCare.com.


Related Books on KMC:

The Premature Baby Book

The Vital Touch

Kangaroo Babies


Related Articles on KMC:

Kangaroo Mother Care

When Doctors Lost All Hope, A Mother's Love and Healing Touch Saves Her Sick Micro Preemie Baby

Mother's Skin-to-Skin Goodbye Saves 20oz Baby

Exclusive Human Milk Diet Benefits NICU Preterm Babies



Read more about the benefits of sleeping within an arm's reach of baby ('sharing sleep') at Dr. Sears' site, at Dr. McKenna's baby sleep site & library, in the books:

or in any of the links on this page.

~~~~


[Videos from AUS will be updated shortly.]




1 comment:

  1. I heard about this a little while ago and it had me in tears. I've just read your piece and am weeping tears of joy again. What a truly beautiful and inspirational story. Not often do we come across stronger evidence of the importance of natural parenting. Beautiful!

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