Zero separation. Together for better care! Keep preterm and sick babies close to their parents
GLANCE developed a campaign called ‘Zero Separation’ to support parents of hospitalised newborns and healthcare professionals in neonatal care units with the aim to enable infant and family-centred developmental care, allowing parents to be with their child 24/7. The campaign first focused on COVID-19 restrictions with separation policies affecting hospitalized newborns and their families, and a global survey conducted on this topic.
This year, the campaign concentrates on Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), a neonatal care practice freshly addressed and highly recommended by the WHO for the care of all preterm (<37 week’s gestation) or low-birth-weight (LBW, <2,5 kg) infants. Kangaroo Mother Care is the care of preterm or LBW infants in continuous and prolonged (8–24 hours per day, for as many hours as possible) skin-to-skin contact recommended to be initiated immediately after birth, with support for exclusive breastfeeding or breast milk feeding.¹
Benefits of Kangaroo Mother Care
Studies have shown that Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) has measurable and significant health benefits for infants, parents, hospitals and healthcare systems.1,2,3,4,5
Benefits for hospitalised newborns:
Benefits for families:
Kangaroo Mother Care – a personal story of a mother
“Precious moments like the one I got to experience should be available to all multiple birth families!”
says Stephanie Ernst, sharing her personal experience with Kangaroo Mother Care.
”My name is Stephanie, and I’m the mother of identical twins born at 31 weeks with Twin Anemia Polycythemia Sequence. At the time, we had been through a stressful pregnancy already, and with the additional stresses of NICU and prematurity thrown at us, it was hard to know how to feel, or even how to connect with my girls.
Kangaroo care was offered to us from the start, and through these precious moments, I could bond with my girls and feel comforted by the fact that this was also benefiting my babies. This photo was taken just hours after they were born, and finally, after months of uncertainty, I could feel calm, knowing that they were ok. We were so incredibly fortunate that both hospitals we were in promoted kangaroo care for our babies, and were experienced in also doing it with multiple births.
It’s essential that healthcare professionals promote and inform parents about KMC with twins. As many parents who have a multiple pregnancy have complications and experience pre-term birth, it’s vital that they also know that it can be done.”
Kangaroo Mother Care – experience of a NICU nurse
“We realized we need to educate and support our staff in why we do kangaroo care and how to do it safely. Now all levels of care in our units get educated on the benefits and on the transfer techniques. Also, we make sure we educate our parents on Kangaroo Care”
Diane K.E. Schultz, NICU nurse in Canada, talks about her experience with Kangaroo Care at St. Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg.
Kangaroo Mother Care in the NICU
Diane Schultz (Neonatal intensive care unit nurse at St. Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) shows how to do Kangaroo Care. She explains and shows transfer techniques for the NICU patient. Click on the image on the left to watch the video and learn ‘how to Kangaroo’.
Benefits for hospitals and healthcare systems
Introducing (immediate) Kangaroo Mother Care can lead to reduction in costs and lower capital investment for hospitals and healthcare systems due to e.g., reductions in electricity, maintenance and repair of equipment. This may partly be a result of the shorter NICU and overall hospital stays. The infant also requires less handling by medical staff while receiving KMC, which frees up staff resources³ and facilitates respectful newborn and family-centered developmental care.⁵
Launch of WHO documents on Kangaroo Mother Care
In 2023 the World Health Organization (WHO) launched two new resources: a global position paper ‘Kangaroo mother care – A transformative innovation in health care’ and an implementation strategy ‘Kangaroo mother care – Implementation strategy for scale-up adaptable to different country contexts’. These resources were developed in collaboration with a multi-country, multi-stakeholder working group, including EFCNI. The documents outline key actions with the aim to enable the wider adoption and implementation of Kangaroo Mother Care to support preterm and low birthweight babies benefitting from this lifesaving care practice.
The resources are directed to policy makers, governments, programme partners and the broader public health community to support KMC and can be downloaded here:
Get involved – Download our 2023 ‘Zero separation. Together for better care!’ campaign resources to engage in this campaign and show your support for newborns and their families. Resources are available in various languages to help you promote family-centred care focusing on KMC. Feel free to use the hashtags #ZeroSeparation #TogetherForBetterCare #KangarooCare #SkinToSkin, so we can find and like your postings.
¹World Health Organization. WHO recommendations for care of the preterm or low-birth-weight infant. World Health Organization, 2022, https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/363697.
²Healthy Newborn Network. “Kangaroo Mother Care.” Healthy Newborn Network, https://www.healthynewbornnetwork.org/issue/kangaroo-mother-care/. Accessed 12 Jan. 2023.
³World Health Organization. Kangaroo mother care: a practical guide. World Health Organization, 2003, https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9241590351.
⁴EFCNI, Bergman NJ, Westrup B, Kuhn P, Daly M, Bertoncelli N, Caballero S, König K. “Very early and continuous skin-to-skin contact.” European Standards of Care for Newborn Health, 2018. https://newborn-health-standards.org/standards/standards-english/infant-family-centred-developmental-care/very-early-and-continuous-skin-to-skin-contact/.
⁵World Health Organization. Kangaroo mother care: Implementation strategy for scale-up adaptable to different country contexts. World Health Organization, 2023, 9789240071636-eng.pdf (who.int).
Thanks to all supporting organisations
We warmly thank the following (parent and patient) organisations for supporting and endorsing this campaign.
This campaign was developed, following the recommendations of the WHO 2022. Last reviewed: September 2023.