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When a baby is born prematurely, the stress level is very high for both baby and parents. Kangaroo Care is a way for parents to hold their premature infant(s).

Also known as "skin-to-skin care," baby is held clad only in a diaper upright directly against the skin on Mom or Dad's chest, and then covered with a hospital gown or clothes. This creates a safe pouch where baby's head rests directly over the heartbeat, and the parent's skin keeps baby warm.

Skin-to-skin care helps worried parents feel closer to their premature baby and more self-confident about holding and taking care of their baby. Mothers say that their breast milk comes in better and the babies learn to breast feed sooner. Some studies indicate that many infants receiving skin-to-skin contact gain weight more quickly.

Kangaroo Care began in a hospital in Columbia, South America in 1983 after which a dramatic reduction in the infant mortality rate of preemies was seen. The practice has since spread worldwide. A growing number of hospitals are supporting the use of Kangaroo Care in their Neonatal Intensive Care Units, including Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa.

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