World Prematurity Day: A Parent’s embrace: a powerful therapy, enable skin-to- skin contact from the moment of birth
Today (Thursday, 17 November 2022) marks global World Prematurity Day. This day aims to raise awareness for the challenges of preterm birth and shine a light on the risks and consequences faced by preterm infants and their families worldwide.
- Preterm birth is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five; each year, about 15 million babies worldwide are born prematurely, that is about 1 in 10 children.
- Kangaroo Mother Care is a skin-to-skin intervention that allows the mother to take a central role in her own and her baby’s care, thereby reversing the shift of power between the mother and the health providers or health systems while providing numerous benefits to the child.
- Skin-to-skin care has valuable benefits between the mother and baby, including health benefits for baby and helping to initiate breastfeeding.
This year for World Prematurity Day, we’re raising awareness about Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) with the global call to action: “A Parent’s embrace: a powerful therapy, enable skin-to-skin contact from the moment of birth.”
KMC is the care of preterm or low birth weight infants in continuous and prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the mother or father. The benefits of KMC from the moment of birth for both the infant and the mother include improved thermal regulation, infection prevention, breastmilk let-down, positive facilitation of physiological, behavioural, psychosocial, and neurodevelopmental effects, and a reduced risk of neonatal mortality by 40%.
Despite the benefits of skin-to-skin care for preterm/underweight infants, implementing KMC as a practice has been a persistent challenge globally. Only a few countries have successfully standardised skin-to-skin care, making it unavailable to many families.
“Mothers who give birth at Broken Hill Health Service are encouraged to have skin to skin contact with their newborn baby as soon as possible after birth. Staff aim to provide evidence based, family centred care which includes promoting Kangaroo Mother Care to all healthy mums and babies,” said Chelsea Anderson, Far West LHD’s Clinical Midwife Consultant.
Although preterm babies form the largest group of paediatric patients in Australia, their interests and needs, as well as the parents’ interests and needs, aren’t publicly broadcasted. World Prematurity Day aims to raise awareness for the challenges surrounding preterm birth and to educate people about risks and consequences. We hope to improve early detection during pregnancy, to promote innovative medical treatment options, to empower mothers and fathers in their roles, and to significantly reduce long-term consequences for children and their families.