VIDEO: Premature baby program to expand across B.C.

New funding will go toward skin-to-skin therapy that helps with breastfeeding and reducing anxiety

Amid decades of advancing technology in the health sector across North America, a back-to-basics therapy program that connects newborn babies to their mothers – literally – will expand across B.C. in hopes of helping families get back to the comfort of their homes sooner after birth.

The B.C. government announced $500,000 on Wednesday in Vancouver, earmarked to broaden a skin-to-skin attachment program called Kangaroo Mother Care to hospitals all over the province.

The approach is rather simple, and one that has been used across the world to mirror the technology now found in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU.

It involves placing a baby, wearing only a diaper, on the chest of one of the parents or other family members, then securing the pair in a wrap to keep them tightly together for a minimum of 90 minutes.

“This very high quality, but low-tech intervention, can be practiced anywhere in the hospitals and at home,” Dr. Tamil Kendall, provincial executive director of Perinatal Services BC, said. “It puts mothers at the centre of the care.”

READ: New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

It’s intended to help with cognitive development and breastfeeding in newborns and fragile premature babies, and combats anxiety believed to be caused by separation. It’s also believed to help prevent postpartum depression in mothers.

The program has been used at the BC Women’s Hospital and Health Care Centre in Vancouver for the past five years, with many positive results.

Families in the Interior, the North and the Kootenays will especially beneift, Kendra said, becuase they often have to travel great lengths to receive necessary care during a high-risk or premature birth.

Some mothers in Nelson have to travel to Kelowna, she said, for their babies to remain in the NICU for weeks.

“For those of us that come from rural and remote areas, that’s can be really important to be able to go home a week or two early.”

Skin-to-skin bonding ‘empowering’ for moms

About 5,000 babies are born prematurely in B.C. each year. They are especially at risk for hearing loss, vision problems, behavioural problems and neurological disorders.

For Vancouver resident Gina Chung and her son, Forrest Gregg, the Kangaroo Care program has allowed them to move past the scary experience of an emergency C-section and develop a symbiotic bond, simply through him resting on her chest.

“I had to do skin-to-skin right away,” Chung said. “I find for bonding it’s just so powerful. As a new mother, you’re already so anxious, but being able to have him right on my chest really calms me down and calms him down.”

Program to roll out as early as summer 2018

The provincial funding will pay for training and equipment for hospitals of all sizes.

Health authorities are currently being asked to take part in a review process, expected to be completed by March, to determine which hospitals will get the new program.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ashcroft under Boil Water Notice

High turbidity levels in the Thompson River have prompted the notice

Prescribed burns to take place around Lytton, Spences Bridge

BC Wildfire Service will only conduct burns if conditions permit

Flooding hits Highway 97 north of Cache Creek

Recent warm temperatures are causing an increase in flooding on area roads

Elizabeth May feels people are looking at the Green Party with new eyes

Green Party leader is hoping for a breakthrough for her party in the October federal election

Cache Creek Softball Association gears up for another season

Organizers are looking for people of all ages from throughout the area

After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

Minor injury cap, court restrictions take effect April 1 in B.C.

B.C., feds accused of ‘environmental racism’ over Site C, Mount Polley

Amnesty International Canada says governments failed to recognize threats to Indigenous peoples

New Leger polls suggests federal Liberals lagging Conservatives

Overall, 31 per cent of respondents polled said they would vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals

Number of homeless deaths more than doubled in B.C. as opioid crisis set in

New data shows trend between more overdose deaths and the number of people dying in the street

Four people spat on in ‘random, unprovoked’ assaults: Vancouver police

Police ask additional victims to come forward after woman in a wheelchair spat on

Teen girl accused in plot to attack Kamloops school with weapons out on bail

Judge warned the girl she would be back in jail if she threatened to shoot anyone

Crown drops one assault charge against B.C. man linked to human remains probe

Curtis Wayne Sagmoen will still stand trial on one count of assault causing bodily harm in December.

Most Read