Cape Town-131127-Groote Schuur Hospital baby ward Micheala Herbert's baby is Kaylin-Leah. she was born at 29 weeks weighing 1040kg and now weighs 1.6kg Herbert uses the Kangaroo method of incubating her baby-Reporter-Sipokazi-Photographer-Tracey Adams
Cape Town-131127-Groote Schuur Hospital baby ward Micheala Herbert's baby is Kaylin-Leah. she was born at 29 weeks weighing 1040kg and now weighs 1.6kg Herbert uses the Kangaroo method of incubating her baby-Reporter-Sipokazi-Photographer-Tracey Adams

Growing small babies skin-to-skin

By Sipokazi Fokazi Time of article published Nov 29, 2013

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Cape Town - Tucked her mother’s boobtube, Kaylin-Leah Herbert is so fragile it’s hard to believe she’s a month old.

Born at 29 weeks and weighing just 1kg, she spent her first month in an incubator at Groote Schuur Hospital’s neonatal unit. But as tiny as she is, she has gained more than 600g and is almost ready to go home with her mother Micheala Herbert, 17, of Steenberg.

The incubator certainly helped, but the devoted staff in the unit also use kangaroo mother care – a more natural and holistic intervention to help the development of premature and low-birthweight babies.

The kangaroo method, which encourages skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, is in the spotlight as this week is national Kangaroo Mother Care week.

The technique, which has been used for more than 30 years, stimulates the baby’s growth and bonding between mother and baby. Studies have shown that the baby’s brain and immune system develop better and faster.

Sister Laurian Hendry, nursing manager of the neonatal unit, said all recovering babies were discharged through the 10-bed unit, with women and their babies required to use the technique for three to five days before being sent home.

“Kangaroo mother care babies gain weight faster so they can be be discharged from hospital sooner. They are usually a lot calmer… and it also helps mothers produce more milk, which is essential for these premature babies. It is like a natural incubator.”

Micheala, who has spent most of the past month at the neonatal unit, couldn’t believe how her baby had grown. “When I gave birth to her, she was so tiny she could fit in a disposable nappy. I had never seen such as small baby. I had never even seen an incubator. But after seeing such dedication by staff here I’m actually considering training to be a nurse.

“And I don’t just want to be any nurse, I want to be a neonatal nurse. Medical staff here saved my baby… and I also want to save other people’s babies.”

But the neonatal unit, which cares for 3 200 of the most underdeveloped and sickest babies in the province every year, is in desperate need of funds. A growing number of pre-term births has placed it under strain.

Almost 600 of these babies born at the unit weigh less than 1.5kg. But a fund-raising campaign – a joint initiative of the Newborns Groote Schuur Trust, the Cape Argus, Good Hope FM and Ogilvy Public Relations – is hoping to raise R26-million to expand the neonatal unit and upgrade its lifesaving equipment. The fund-raising campaign is expected to take about two years and the revamp should be completed by the end of 2016.

To donate to the Newborns Groote Schuur Trust, and learn more about the campaign, visit www.newborns.org.za. - Cape Argus

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