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HOSPITAL PROMOTES KANGAROO CARE FOR ALL INFANTS

November 15, 2013

From The Orange County Register

Published: Nov. 14, 2013

By Megan Nicolai / Orange County Register

MISSION VIEJO – Alyssa Tilford of Lake Forest attributes a large portion of her two-month-old son’s growth to a whimsically-named medical technique that forgoes cutting-edge medical equipment – kangaroo care.

Tilford, 23, gave birth to Alexander about 15 weeks early in an emergency caesarean section. He was just over two pounds at birth. After 63 days and daily kangaroo care sessions, he’s more than five pounds.

During their daily kangaroo session at Children’s Hospital of Orange County at Mission Hospital, Tilford places a diaper-clad Alexander facedown on her chest, skin to skin.

“I’d suggest it to anyone,” Tilford said. “Like breastfeeding, you just have a bond. … He can hear my heartbeat, my breathing patterns. He’s used to my smell and dad’s smell. He can see how we interact with him and how we’re here for him. It’s just the best feeling.”

CHOC at Mission and Mission Hospital have partnered with March of Dimes to celebrate skin-to-skin care this week, holding a “kangaroo-a-thon” meant to promote the practice by parents. The technique has been used to help prematurely-born infants for years, and is now being suggested for all babies, Liz Drake, a clinical nurse specialist at CHOC, said.

Research has found the skin-to-skin care technique can help babies gain weight faster, regulate their body temperature, improve their vital signs, decrease pain and stress responses, ease breathing and improve sleep. It can also increase milk supply and the duration of breastfeeding, and help ease a mother’s stress and anxiety, Drake said. And the benefits of the daily sessions can continue well past the day they leave the hospital, she said.

“It’s so simple,” Drake said. “It’s nice that we can do (kangaroo care) in such a technological world.”

Drake said skin-to-skin sessions typically last at least an hour, once per day in the neonatal intensive care unit. Many parents will keep a session going for two or three hours, she said.

Christine Gurney, a nurse specialist in Women’s and Infant Services at Mission Hospital, said the facility’s maternity center recently began encouraging skin-to-skin sessions throughout the initial hospital stay and after the infant goes home. The practice has been a hit among parents and medical professionals, she said.

“We’re finding it as just a gift with the way our families are reacting and nurses are reacting,” Gurney said. “We encourage skin-to-skin after delivery, but skin-to-skin throughout their stay is a little newer for us.”

Tilford said the first time she held Alexander at just two days old, she kept him on her chest for three hours.

“Even though I was in pain, it was the best feeling in the entire world,” Tilford said.

Now, Tilford and Alexander’s father make sure Alexander has a skin-to-skin session each day for at least an hour.

“We switch off, because otherwise we’d fight over who gets to hold him,” Tilford said, laughing.

Contact the writer: 949-454-7373 or mnicolai@ocregister.com; on Twitter @MeganNicolai

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