Kangaroo Mother Care & Exclusive Breastfeeding
Newborns Vietnam supports the Da Nang Department of Health’s Early Essential Newborn Care (EENC) programme by training Nurse Practice Educators and by providing basic short training courses for nurses and doctors in the care of pre term and sick newborns.
Early Essential Newborn Care can be performed in all birth settings without the need for complicated preparations and can be applied in district and community health centres in remote or hard to reach areas.
The focus is on improving the quality of care during and immediately after birth. EENC is a series of simple steps that will save thousands of newborn lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of complications each year from unsafe or outdated practices in newborn care in Viet Nam. EENC begins with the First Embrace or sustained skin-to-skin contact between the mother and child shortly after birth. This simple act transfers warmth, placental blood and protective bacteria, and encourages exclusive breastfeeding.
Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is a care technique for preterm infants below 2,000 grams birth weight, first presented by Rey and Martinez, in Bogotá, Colombia in 1978. The World Health Organisation published official guidelines for worldwide application in 2003. Early Essential Newborn Care and Kangaroo Mother Care are core strands of Vietnam’s newborn health policy.
KMC is one of the low-cost interventions used in many developing and poor countries faced with the problems of high neonatal mortality and high incidence of low birth weight without appropriate neonatal facilities. It is an alternative to minimal care after the baby has overcome any initial life threatening conditions and in situations where facilities are of good standard, but insufficient to cope with the demand. It is also used in places with access to all levels of neonatalcare, as KMC offers early mother-baby, skin-to-skin contact, enhancing the quality of mother-infant bonding and successful breastfeeding.
Research has established that KMC is more than an alternative to incubator care. It has been shown to be effective for thermal control, breastfeeding and bonding in all infants.
Its key features are:
• early, continuous and prolonged skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the baby,
• exclusive breastfeeding (ideally),
• it is initiated in hospital and can be continued at home,
KMC allows parents to bond their baby a modern method of care in any setting, even where expensive technology and adequate care are available.
The widespread adoption of exclusive breastfeeding – feeding by breast milk alone for the first six months of the baby’s life – has the potential to save newborn lives of more than 1.5 million infants each year.
The key points are:
• breastfeeding delays the mother’s return to fertility because of lactational amenorrhoea,
• breastfeeding provides the best possible nutrition for the baby,
• unless extremely malnourished, virtually all mothers can produce enough milk,
• successful breastfeeding requires support for the mother and the family,
• there is no need for extra bottle feeds or water for normal babies even in hot climates, (exposing baby to water increases the likelihood of infections, especially diarrhoea).