Kangaroo Care Awareness Day Celebration with NüRoo

Kangaroo Care Awareness Day Nuroo Skin-to-skin increasing neural pathways

Today is Kangaroo Care Awareness Day, a day that’s near and dear to us, because it celebrates and highlights the practice of Kangaroo Care (KC), or Skin-to-Skin contact. We at NüRoo are extremely passionate about the practice, science and benefits of KC. So passionate about it, that we truly geek out and could talk about it all day!   But it wasn’t always that way….

We, Daniela + Hope, the co-founders of NüRoo, both had children before learning the importance of Kangaroo Care. Sure, we had heard of Skin-to-Skin contact and knew that it was good for mom and baby, but that was the extent of what we knew. It wasn’t until subsequent pregnancies, when our nurse midwives told us about the long-term benefits of the practice, that we truly understood what KC was all about. Our nurses explained that Kangaroo Care (KC) was a very specific way of holding baby, wearing only a diaper, vertically on mom’s bare chest. Continuous skin-to-skin contact stimulates a nerve in both mom and baby, sending a message to the brain to produce a hormonal cascade that delivers a whole ton of benefits.

We were AMAZED to learn that an uninterrupted 60 minutes of Kangaroo Care would accelerate baby’s brain development, reduce stress and crying, regulate baby’s body temperature, heart rate and breathing; increase their quality of sleep; enhance their immune system; stimulate digestion and weight gain; and increase breastfeeding behavior. Equally important, the practice offered benefits for mom that include a decreased risk of postpartum depression; increased milk production; reduction in postpartum bleeding, cortisol (stress) levels, and blood pressure; increased pain tolerance; and higher levels of psychological well-being.

Having received a taste of the science behind the practice, how could we not give and receive all those amazing benefits simply by cuddling our newborn?!

Each of us left the hospital bound and determined to practice KC with our babies, for at least an hour a day. But with active families, including toddlers, running around at home, who had an uninterrupted hour, much less 10 minutes, to lay with baby skin-to-skin in bed or on the couch? And so, the hunt was on for a product that allowed us to wear baby skin-to-skin while we were on our feet, hands-free, doing what we needed to do. And when we never found such a product out there, we decided to invent it ourselves, and the NüRoo Pocket was born!

Seeing the impact Kangaroo Care had on our babies charged and empowered us to advocate for this incredible practice for ALL moms and babies. Hungry to learn as much as we could, we went on to become certified by the US Institute for Kangaroo Care and continue to educate providers and moms alike on the many benefits of KC that extend far beyond bonding. If our story can leave you with one lasting though, may it be that skin-to-skin is not just a hospital based practice. Over 40 years of research proves that the best place for you and your baby to spend the fourth trimester and beyond, is together skin-to-skin! Learn more about the NüRoo Pocket and the science behind the practice at nuroobaby.com.

Nuroo breastfeeding kangaroo care awareness day

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 Daniela + Hope are giving away 1 NüRoo Pockets Babywearing Shirt to 12 different winners to encourage and support Kangaroo Care Awareness Day and skin-to-skin time for moms and babies.

The NüRoo® Pocket is a babywearing shirt that offers full coverage and mobility for moms practicing skin-to-skin contact with their baby.  It also doubles as a hands-free carrier!  Extremely easy to get baby in and out of, without wrapping, tying or knotting.

  • The ‘cross and hug’ closures provide a custom fit as your body changes and your baby grows.
  • The fabric is super soft, breathable, moisture-wicking and offers just the right amount of compression to ensure proper position and continued support for both mom and baby.
  • It adheres to the sling carrier standards, which means it’s been tested up to 45 pounds.
  • A 2014 Editor’s Pick from What to Expecting When You’re Expecting!
  • Available in long-sleeve or short-sleeve in Black or Teal, Sizes XS – XL
  • Designed for pre- and full-term babies
  • Retails for $59.99

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This giveaway is open to winners in the USA only.

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What is Skin to Skin Care?

by Kim Walls, mom and creator/owner of BabyTime by Episencial.  This post made possible by the generous support of BabyTime Episencials.

Kangaroo Care
The most classic definition of ‘Skin-to-Skin Care’ (which is the same as ‘Kangaroo Care’) refers specifically to sessions of 60 minutes of continuous touch between baby and mom in the first moments, hours and days after baby is born. First, baby is placed on mother’s chest immediately after birth, where the cascade of normal hormonal physiological benefits will occur. Baby will show nine distinct stages of bonding including relaxation, crawling (Yes! A newborn will actually wiggle towards the breast!) and rooting to suckle.
The latest research shows that while the 60 minute time frame recommended for classic Kangaroo Care is important, it touches on just a fraction of the benefits available to baby and mom from a more comprehensive understanding of skin to skin care. Even six seconds of skin to skin touch is often enough to raise the ‘love’ and ‘bonding’ hormone oxytocin, which could make breastfeeding easier and reduce the symptoms of postpartum depression. Additionally, it is within the first 48 hours after birth that baby’s skin is first colonized with the beneficial bacteria that will help keep her dermal microflora (skin surface bacteria) in protective balance.
The immediate separation that’s typical in most U.S. hospitals may not be as ideal as time spent snuggling together – skin to skin – for at least 60 minutes immediately after birth, and as much as possible for the first 48 hours. Studies have shown that even brain development is enhanced in babies who had ample skin to skin contact in those early hours and weeks after being born. Your baby instinctively knows that nestling into your chest is the best place she could be.
The natural colonization of baby’s skin with the same bacteria as found on mom’s skin, plus breastfeeding, are thought to help prevent allergic reactions in baby as she ages. Skin to skin closeness with Mom, immediately after birth and beyond, are critical to support breastfeeding and the proper microflora colonization. It also helps bring baby’s heart rate, temperature, blood pressure and breathing rates back to normal after the stimulation of being born. Babies experience stress as they go through the birthing process. After birth and for a long time after, the healthiest place to be is on mom’s chest.

As baby gets older, there are plenty of opportunities for parents to share increased skin to skin contact time, through baby massage, giving baby a bath, taking a nap together, or just playing simple games together (Peek a boo with baby in your lap and a board book!)

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Did you use Kangaroo Care with your little ones?

How do you enjoy skin-to-skin time with your little ones still?

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References:

Lozoff B, Brittenham GM, Trause MA, Kennell JH, Klaus MH. The mother-newborn relationship: limits of adaptability. J Pediatr 1977 July;91(1):1-12.

Lozoff B, Brittenham G. Infant care: cache or carry. J Pediatr 1979 September;95(3):478-83.

Morton D, Thierry B, Peretta G, Lankeit M, Ljungberg T, van Hooff J A R A M, and Scott L. The welfare of non-human primates used in research. Report of the Scientific Committee on Animal health and Animal Welfare.  European Commission Health and Consumer Prtoection Directorate-general; 2002 Dec 17.

McKenna JJ, Mosko S. Evolution and infant sleep: an experimental study of infant-parent co-sleeping and its implications for SIDS. Acta Paediatr Suppl 1993 June;82 Suppl 389:31-6.

McKenna JJ, Thoman EB, Anders TF, Sadeh A, Schechtman VL, Glotzbach SF. Infant-parent co-sleeping in an evolutionary perspective: implications for understanding infant sleep development and the sudden infant death syndrome. Sleep 1993 April;16(3):263-82.

Laughlin CD. Pre- and Perinatal brain Development and enculturation: a biogenetic structural approach.  1991.

Schore AN. Effects of a secure attachment relationship on right brain development, affect regulation, and infant mental health. Infant Mental Health Journal 2001;22(1-2):7-66.

Bates E, Thal D, Finlay B, Clancy B. Early language development and its neural correlates. In: Rapin I, Segalowitz S, editors. Handbook of Neuropsychology. 2nd edition ed. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 2005.

Doussard-Rossevelt J, Porges SW, McClenny BD. Behavioral sleep states in very low birth weight preterm neonates: relation to neonatal health and vagal maturation. J Pediatr Psychol 1996 December;21(6):785-802.

J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2001 Dec;6(3):170-4.

Skin microflora and bacterial infections of the skin.

Chiller K, Selkin BA, Murakawa GJ.

J Appl Microbiol. 2013 May;114(5):1241-53. doi: 10.1111/jam.12137. Epub 2013 Feb 1.

Bioactives from probiotics for dermal health: functions and benefits.

Lew LC, Liong MT.

PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e53867. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053867. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

Probiotic bacteria induce a ‘glow of health’.

Levkovich T, Poutahidis T, Smillie C, Varian BJ, Ibrahim YM, Lakritz JR, Alm EJ, Erdman SE.

Clin Microbiol Rev. 2003 October; 16(4): 658–672.

Potential Uses of Probiotics in Clinical Practice

Gregor Reid,1,2,3,* Jana Jass,1,2 M. Tom Sebulsky,2 and John K. McCormick1,2

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2005 Dec;11(12):958-66.

Probiotics: facts and myths.

Senok AC, Ismaeel AY, Botta GA.

Garcia Bartels N, Mleczko A, Schink T, Proquitte H, Wauer RR, Blume-Peytavi U. Influence of bathing or washing on skin barrier function in newborns during the first four weeks of life. Skin Pharmacology. 2009;22:248–257.

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The Milky Way- Every Mother Has a Story

I am happy to share this guest post from Chantal Monal, RN MA IBCLC.  Chantal partnered with friend Jennifer Davidson, RN BSN IBCLC to produce a film about breastfeeding, society, and the incredible power of breastmilk.  The Milky Way film reveals the real power vested in women’s bodies and how that affects their babies – even the tiniest of preemies.  Chantal shares how breastmilk and babies at the breast make a difference for preemies in Berlin.  The film is in the final stages of production and the film making team needs more funds to finish their post production work.  You can be a part of their project and supporting others in reaching their breastfeeding goals by helping to normalize breastfeeding through participating in the kickstarter campaign to finish the film.  It ends at midnight on July 10, 2013, so only two days to help them reach their goal.  Your pledge will make a difference.

milky way collage

The nursing mother is truly a phenomenon. Not only does her body produce milk for her baby that is specifically designed for her baby(ies), the milk is alive with immune qualities, stem cells, growth factors, and much more, but her body provides habitat for her very immature and needy baby. Placing a baby on its mama’s chest immediately after birth triggers primitive neonatal reflexes that express the breastfeeding program that is vested in the baby.  Lying skin-to-skin activates a feeding sequence that results in a baby finding and often self-latching to its mother’s nipple.

At its mother’s breast, a baby is at home. This is where all things begin. Our babies learn to socialize, their brains develop, their little bodies learn to regulate temperature, breathing, and heart rate, and their physiology stabilizes. All this happens on the chest.

Babies who are kept in a mother-environment, with baby-wearing and co-sleeping, learn to synchronize their breathing and heartbeat with their mothers’.  All babies fall out of synchronicity periodically, but babies who are nursing and in close proximity to their mothers, develop the ability to re-synchronize, which is a protective factor against SIDS. These babies become very competent and self-reliant. They know where their food comes from and can navigate in the dark to their food source. How many of us have awakened to a latched-on baby?  That is a baby who feels secure and in control of his environment.

This stabilization and development is illustrated beautifully with premature babies. The Milky Way team traveled to Berlin to film this phenomenon in action with preemies in a very special NICU. We had the opportunity to film the power of Kangaroo Mother Care, which is care at the mother’s breast. Instead of a room full of incubators, where mothers have to sit in a chair and visit their baby, this hospital provides a room for each family to stay with their baby for its entire stay.

Each room has a bed big enough for mom and dad, a warmer and incubator, and some comfy chairs. There is a large common room provided as well, where parents can gather with their families and have a meal, or just visit.

The mothers keep their fragile babies on their chest for about 19 hours a day. They are taught to hand express colostrum, which they give through a feeding tube until their baby can latch and suck. Babies are at the breast frequently, nuzzling and licking until they naturally begin to suckle. In this setting, the authority is with the mother and father, the medical and nursing staff are there to “stand behind” the parents and to assist them as they are the primary care-givers of their own baby. This kind of care results in 3 pound babies being discharged home, fully breastfeeding, with confident parents.

MOM PREEMIE the Milky Way Film

The Milky Way is a film to empower mothers. The Milky Way reveals the extraordinary power vested in women’s bodies and how that affects their babies – even the tiniest of preemies. Nursing is so much more than food. The profound capacity inherent in a woman’s body has been ignored, overlooked and dismissed for far too long.  It is time that we collectively see nursing as the profound act that it is and place value on the product, the process, and recognize the mother as a powerful phenomenon.

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 Here at The Leaky Boob we know that every mother has a story and believe that sharing those stories provides mom-to-mom support in the wide variety of breastfeeding journeys women experience today.

We want to hear your story.  Share in the comments your breastfeeding story.

Did hearing the stories of others encourage and inspire you?

Did sharing your own story help someone else?

Has breastfeeding helped you to develop confidence and see how your body is a powerful phenomenon?

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A Tale of Two Preemies

Leanne shares her story of journeying through her own physical problems and then her preemie daughters.  The differences in hospitals dedicated to getting human babies human milk is highlighted in this touching story of struggling to get preemies the milk they so desperately need.  I am honored to be bringing you this guest post and appreciate Leanne sharing her story.  Leanne has a personal blog, No Spelling Required, and she would love for you to come say hi.
I believe that sometimes we, as humans, go against what is or should be possible.  I am a prime example of that.  Genetics has not been kind in my family.  I’ve survived three genetic illnesses that are incurable.  Two being autoimmune.  Silent diseases that no one else can see, but I can always feel.  I was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes when I was barely 5 years old.  At the age of 17 I was then diagnosed with Grave’s thyroid disease.  5 years later I had a secondary diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.  It’s been proven that people who suffer from one genetic, autoimmune disorder often suffer from another at some point in their life.  I was also a rare case with the Grave’s Disease because of my young age when it happened.  Most people who get thyroid disease don’t get it until they are into their 40’s and 50’s.    The Diabetes I’ve always been able to deal well with.  The other two illnesses, on the other hand, have wreaked a lot of havoc on my life, making me sick for years on end and also causing problems with my two beautiful girls.
My first had breathing problems due to being born early and having underdeveloped lungs.  She spent about two weeks in the NICU back in ’96 when she was born.  Surprisingly enough, she came out of it with flying colors even through the horrid radiation treatment I received while I was pregnant with her.  Her only mishap being that she had a heart murmur which had resolved itself by the time she was 6 months old.

Breastfeeding with Jordan was short lived.  The hospital at the time had taken total control of her feeding “schedule” and immediately put a bottle into her mouth when she was no longer feeding from her IV alone.  I never even had a chance to latch her on once.  This is the happenings of hospitals bought out by formula companies.  I tried repeatedly to get her to latch on and gave up quickly with lack of proper support and knowledge at the time to do much more to help her become used to breastfeeding.  I pumped for a few weeks afterward and still felt it was useless because of how little I was able to produce at the time.  Our entire breastfeeding relationship had been sabotaged right from the beginning.  I was only 20 years old at the time and did exactly what I thought every mom eventually did anyway and of course started her immediately on formula.  I regret every day that I didn’t have the information I do now.  I would have made sure I succeeded at the one gift I could have given her that was so very important.  
After Jordan was born, I had also decided I didn’t want to ever try for another baby as well.  I felt like I had been through enough with her to have her be my only little star.  In 2006 I knew I was never going to have more children and did something that, at the time, felt very right for me and had breast reduction surgery.  At 5 ft. even and being a DD bra size, it was way too much for me and I wanted to finally be comfortable, therefore I went through it.  For 3 years I was in love with myself all over again and felt great!  Little did I know that last Christmas I had a small gift in the beginning stages of pregnancy starting.  I found out two days before Christmas day that I was pregnant with my second daughter!  I just about went through the roof when we found out.  My first baby was now 13 years old!  I had not expected this ever.  Fate had different plans for me than to be only a mother of one though.
After the initial shock wore off, I spent many of my months of pregnancy doing a lot of homework, joining online mommy groups, and studying up on how I was going to attempt breastfeeding again after my reduction.  I dove into this feet first and learned how much things had changed.   I had the internet this time around to guide me and boy did I ever utilize this ability!  The thought of donor milk and milk banks had crossed my mind after learning about them, in case I couldn’t produce enough.  I expected not to produce enough, but was adamant to make sure I was able to at least breastfeed a little this time around. Little did I know at the time how expensive buying breast milk was!  
Sam and I ended up have little Zoe almost 7 weeks early because of my illnesses.  Once again, I had another baby in the NICU.  Only this time with many more problems and a much more intense situation.  Zoe was born with thyroid issues as well.  She was another very rare case.  Something that almost NEVER happens to babies of women with thyroid disease did indeed happen to her and I.  The antibodies that I still carry in my body, even after treatment, had crossed over the placenta and started attacking her thyroid gland.  This is only supposed to happen with a woman who is actively hyperthyroid while being pregnant.  I was not.  My thyroid function has actually gone deeply the opposite way.  I can no longer produce thyroid hormone at all on my own due to I-131 radiation treatment I had received during my first pregnancy.  The case of this happening runs at only a 2% chance that the baby will be affected.  That would mean about 1 in 25,000 babies would be born with Neonatal Thyrotoxicosis like Zoe was born with.  The fact I was no longer hyper with my thyroid function makes this almost an anomaly type of situation as well and that much more of a rare case!

Zoe ended up spending a little over a month in the hospital to take care of these issues with her.  My heart just aches for her and what she went through prior to being born and after as well.  I remember having Thyroid Storm myself, and feeling like I was having a heart attack during the entire thing.  The anxiety it creates, the rapid heart rate, palpitations, loss of hair, and weight, all things I remember all too well.  To have to endure this when not even born yet, and have it affect you so badly your heart stops at birth as well as your breathing, it is so painful to my heart to know she had to go through this.  It is painful to never know how a normal birth would have been for her or my oldest either.  
The one wonderful thing about the hospital we had Zoe in was the milk banking they did.  Huge amounts of stored breast milk donated by local mothers for all these NICU babies!  I was petrified that I’d again be doomed to have to deal with formula pushers, especially after my previous experience.  This time I came in knowing exactly what I didn’t want though!  I knew I wanted to breastfeed her exclusively for as long as I possibly could.  I knew I’d probably have to supplement, but I wanted to her to have MY milk first and foremost!  The hospital agreed!  I was so shocked when the doctor started trying to talk me into signing the consent form to have donated milk given to her.  I think I shocked him as well by grabbing his pen and signing the form before he even had a chance to finish what he wanted to tell me.  The lactation consultants were also amazing.  They knew the hard road that Zoe and I were facing with trying to produce enough milk after reduction.  They did everything they could to keep me going with pumping for her while she was in the NICU and when she was finally able to start latching on, they continued with the amazement.  Everything under the sun was tried to make this work for her and I including giving me my own SNS to supplement her with.  The consultants, nurses, and doctors were all so diligent in helping us succeed in this.  Zoe exclusively breastfed for a full month as well as she was on the donor milk.  I will be thankful every day for having that hospital staff during her traumatic birth just for the fact that they were so supportive of all our needs and wants.

I eventually gave them the go ahead to start bottle feeding her my pumped milk as well when I could not be there for all of her feedings.  As much as we mothers would love to move into the NICU with our babies, that’s just not reality and there were times I had to go home too.  Nipple confusion amongst young babies happens very quickly.  It did indeed happen again in our case as well.  I’m OK with this though.  I had a choice to make, either feed my baby so she can go home with me finally, or salvage a breastfeeding relationship while she continues to be fed through her NG tube.  You can imagine what my choice was immediately.  I did choose the easier way out.  I wanted her to be home with us, not stuck in the hospital for a longer period of time.  I will not regret it.  She did so well breastfeeding even only for the 5 to 10 minutes intervals that she did in her first month.  For such a little baby, that is hard work!  Born at 4 lbs. 9 oz. and weighing just over 5 lbs. when she was finally able to go home, I was so proud of her for trying so hard.

I continued to pump when I got her home.  Eventually it became too frustrating for me to pump like crazy and only get, on average, 10 ml for both sides.  I was taking Reglan from the doctors, Fenugreek, and eating oatmeal like crazy.  I would produce the milk and become engorged like a mad woman, but never be able to get anything more than tiny bits at a time.  Throughout a 24 hour period I’d pump just barely enough to fill a full 4 oz. bottle.  It was too stressful at the time to continue to do this.  I did give up completely.  However,  I was then on the search for a donor.  Two weeks ago I finally found the lady for my little girl!  A woman who had donated before to an adoptive mom and is willing to donate to Zoe all the extra that she gets.  She fills her freezer up, and I come when she calls and take it off her hands.  It’s an amazing, beautiful gift that this lady has give Zoe and I and I could never be thankful enough to find someone like her to help us.  It takes someone so very special to be able to part with something so personal such as breast milk.  I am completely amazed every time I meed such a selfless person in my life such as this lady.  She gives such a precious gift to my little girl of her own free will.  For that, I am just plain thankful, again amazed, and completely honored.
Through all of this, and with the help of everyone who has in the past few months given so much to us, we are coming out on top.  The antibodies of mine that invaded Zoe’s tiny little body are finally starting to die off.  Hopefully by the time she is 6 months old they will completely die.  Until then, we will continue to care for her special needs and delicate situation.  The amazing people who have joined us in keeping up with what’s best for her will never ever be forgotten, even when I grow old, I will always remember.  Zoe may not, but I will always be forever thankful!

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