8.5.3 Counselling the family on the benefits of KMC
KMC may seem an unusual way of caring for the baby, so it is very important that you allow time for counselling the mother, the father and the family about what it entails, as well as about its benefits. She (and they) will need to be convinced and willing to undertake KMC for several days continuously. And the father and other members of the family will need to be ready to provide the necessary emotional and physical support to the mother while she is giving KMC.
So, what are the benefits of KMC?
- Breastfeeding: KMC increases breastfeeding rates as well as increasing the duration of breastfeeding.
- Thermal control: Prolonged skin-to-skin contact between the mother and her preterm/low birth weight newborn provides effective temperature control with a reduced risk of hypothermia.
- Early weight gain: Tiny babies gain more weight on KMC than on conventional postnatal care.
- Less morbidity: Babies receiving KMC have more regular breathing and are less likely to stop breathing. It also protects her baby against infection.
Of course it may not be possible for all mothers to take on KMC. You will need to satisfy yourself that the mother does not have any complications or medical illness which would mean that she is not strong enough to manage it on her own. If that is the case you should explore whether the father or another close member of the family might share the KMC with the mother, or give KMC exclusively if the mother is ill.
Finally, mothers who have successfully managed to give KMC have increased confidence and a deep satisfaction that they are able to do something so special for their tiny baby.