For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139: 13-14 (ESV)~
I remember the wonderful feeling on my belly–the squirming child who was recently inside me was now wiggling on me.
That happened four out of five times. One of my babies came so quickly I didn’t have a sterile drape on me to receive the child. (I warned them, but did they listen?)
None of my five were premature. But a preemie (and sometimes a full-term baby) born today is likely to receive “Kangaroo Care”–their parents will hold them skin to skin. This practice provides warmth and connection for the babe. Mother’s (or Father’s) body heat, voice, heartbeat are all conduits to connection.
The practice began in Bogota, Columbia, when incubators were scarce and babies in distress were in great supply. After implementing the skin to skin care, the mortality rate plunged from 70 to 30 percent. Since then, Kangaroo Care has become more widespread–even when incubators are readily available.
The most interesting aspect of the ensuing research I’ve found is that, during skin to skin time with the baby on or between the mother’s breasts, the breasts change temperature to accommodate the baby’s needs–even going so far that, with preemie twins, one on each breast, the breasts achieve different temperatures to accommodate each baby’s thermal need.
One mother reports using Kangaroo Care with her adopted newborn daughter–allowing the baby to get used to the mother’s body rhythms–to feel and smell her new mother–to get used to the sound of this previously unheard voice.
But the benefits aren’t just for the babies.
One study discusses the effects of Kangaroo Care (KC) for adopting parents. “During KC the mother’s perception of her infant changes: She feels more competent as a care provider, more responsible for her infant, and more in control of her situation.”
Now I think back nearly 38 years to the last time I felt my youngest one on my abdomen–warm and wet through the drape.
These were the days when it was still okay to dispense aspirin even to infants and put them to sleep on their bellies. In spite of all we’ve learned, perhaps there is more yet to learn.
We may just be on our way to discovering how healthy human connections begin at the beginning.
One of those ways–Kangaroo Care–highlights the deft hand of a loving Creator. The Creator who installed a heating and cooling system in the breasts of mothers–the mother’s miracle touch.
We are indeed wonderfully made.
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his –Psalm 100:3a~