Everyone loves to cuddle! This holds especially true for our youngest patients in our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Grand River Hospital (GRH). From now until May 15th GRH is participating in Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s Kangaroo Challenge and encouraging new families in the NICU to practice kangaroo care with their infants.
At almost 32 weeks pregnant, Nicole Brady arrived at the hospital and gave birth to her twins an hour later, who were immediately transferred into the NICU for specialized care.
“As soon as I was able to hold them I did and we began kangaroo care right away,” says Nicole.
Kangaroo care is the practice of holding an infant skin to skin by their parents. Kangaroo care has many benefits including the potential to improve overall health outcomes for the infant and to decrease the incidence and severity of postpartum depression in mothers.
Although twins Leo and his older sister (by 13 minutes!) Sophie are expected to be in hospital for six to eight weeks, Nicole plans to practice kangaroo care as much as she can.
“For me, skin to skin care has been important for bonding with my babies and helping to establish that relationship with them. It’s been good for them and has also helped with my overall well-being and establishing a good milk supply,” says Nicole.
For new mom’s coming into the hospital Nicole says about kangaroo care, “Do it as early as you can, as long as you can. It’s good for everyone involved.”
There has been more and more research supporting the benefits of skin to skin contact, including improved patient stability and long term neurodevelopmental outcomes, as well as improved maternal mental health.
“We have some of the best technology and equipment to care for our patients, but sometimes a little cuddle goes a long way”, says Jessica Socha, education practice lead and registered nurse for GRH’s children’s program.
During the Kangaroo Challenge, GRH’s NICU, along with 113 other hospitals from around the world, will be sharing education with families about the many health benefits of kangaroo care and competing to see how many hours of kangaroo care we can achieve.
“All the staff at GRH have been incredible. I have nothing but amazing things to say about the staff that have helped us over the last few weeks,” says Nicole.
Stay calm and cuddle on!