By Desiree Williams
Kangroo-a-thon will return for its second year in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health North Hospital in Carmel.
Kangaroo care is a method that involves skin-to-skin contact. Parents hold their child, clothed only in a diaper, against their bare chest with a small blanket covering the child’s back. Kangaroo-a-thon encourages this method by tallying how long families can hold their baby over a two-week period. The goal is to promote awareness of the benefits of skin-to-skin contact and start making those benefits a reality for families in the NICU.
Lynn Jenkins, RN, a nurse in the NICU and co-chair of Kangaroo-a-thon, brought the event to the hospital two years ago after hearing about it at an international conference in Florida.
“We already encourage skin-to-skin holding, so we wanted to take it over the top with our two weeks of tallying and keeping track of how often they are holding babies skin-to-skin because of all the positive benefits for the families and the baby,” Jenkins said.
Skin-to-skin contact reduces parental stress, increases parent and infant bonding, decreases postpartum depression, improves a child’s sleep cycle which stimulates brain development, increases a child’s weight gain and much more.
Last year, the hospital tallied 544 hours of skin-to-skin contact between parents or grandparents and the child with an average of 3.12 hours per day. Sixteen babies were held for eight hours in a row.
This year’s goal is to reach an average of 3.5 hours per day and to find one family who can hold their baby for 24 hours straight.
The contest began May 1 and will last until May 15. Donated prizes are given to the staff and families over the two-week period to keep up the competitive spirits.
“I think it helps to get everyone on the care team, both nurses and physicians, and even some of our other support staff, to talk about kangaroo care with the moms, babies and dads. Just keep talking about it so that we continue to encourage it,” Jenkins said.
For more, visit IUHealth.org.