One of the known benefits of prematurity and parenting is Kangaroo care. I am sad to say we didn't do enough of it! In fact, I don't think we did it more than just once and it was when one of the nurses was trying to get me to produce more milk.
Though we did hold him more than the average preemie ( that I have heard anyway) we didn't do much skin to skin. But kanagroo care is a very effective bonding technique AND has awesome medical benefits.
What it is? Kangaroo Care consists of placing a diaper clad premature baby in an upright position on a parent's bare chest - tummy to tummy, in between the breasts. Most studies have proven that Kangaroo Care has a major, positive impact on babies and their parents; some studies have proven there is no change; but no study has proven that Kangaroo Care has hurt either parent or baby.
What it does?
Decreases pain in preterm infants. There is some evidence that skin to skin contact or KMC lessens the pain response in full term and moderately preterm babies, but there are no studies on how very preterm babies may benefit.
Increases Lactation in mothers and helps baby regulate temperature : In 1990, Susan Ludington (Heart and Lung, 19 (5): 445-451) concluded that mothers showed thermal synchrony with their babies. A recent study placed babies in Kangaroo Care position on the mother's chest and temperatures were taken periodically of both the mother's chest and the baby. The study concluded that when the baby got cold, the mother's body temperature would increase to 'warm' the baby up. The reverse was also true. Given a suggestion of "Your baby looks warm to me" by a nurse, the mother's chest temperature would decrease within minutes to compensate. Extra blankets and monitoring of baby's temperature might be needed when Dad or others practice Kangaroo Care, but in 1997, Karl Bauer, et al (Journal of Pediatrics, 130 (2): 240-244) concluded that one hour of skin-to-skin contact (Kangaroo Care) was no cold stress to preterm infants.
In 1998, Papi A Gomez, et al (An Esp Pediatr 1998 Jun;48 (6): 631-633 - Spanish) found infants in Kangaroo Care for > 50 minutes were 8 times more likely to breast feed spontaneously. Kangaroo Care allows for easy access to the breast, and the skin-to-skin contact increases milk let-down. A receiving blanket, strategically placed to catch extra milk is extremely helpful - especially if the baby is unable to breast feed.
As a mom who LOVED holding her sweet baby but didn't get a chance to do the above make sure you realize that you do what you can and Touch by itself is so good for your baby. They feel loved and know you are there.
Keep up the good work moms. You can do it.