Kangaroo Mother Care : Parents’ experiences and patterns of application in two Swedish neonatal intensive care units

Abstract: Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is an alternative model of care that prevents parent-infant separation when preterm infants need neonatal intensive care by skin-to-skin contact between infants and their parents. KMC is also a strategy that involves parents in their infants’ care and enables them to assume the responsibility for the care. Furthermore, KMC promotes parent-infant bonding and attachment.The overall aim of this thesis was to gain a deeper understanding and knowledge about parents’ capacity, willingness, and experiences of KMC and to which extent parents choose to use KMC throughout their infants' hospital stay. These studies were conducted in the NICUs at two Swedish university hospitals (NICU A and NICU B).Mothers of infants cared for at NICU A (n=17) answered a questionnaire about their experiences of KMC (Paper I). Twenty parents of infants cared for at NICU A recorded the duration of each KMC session during a period of 24 hours and the identity the KMC provider (Paper II). Seven fathers were interviewed about their experiences of KMC (Paper III) and 76 mothers and 74 fathers completed a questionnaire about what facilitated or rendered it difficult to perform KMC (Paper IV). The time of initiation of KMC and duration in minutes, and the identity of the KMC providers was recorded continuously during the infants’ (n=104) hospital stay: 83 mothers and 80 fathers also completed a questionnaire during their infants’ hospital stay (Paper V).This thesis provides new knowledge about parents’ practice of KMC, also continuously day and night, in a high tech NICU in an affluent society, with good resources for infant care in an incubator by trained staff. The accuracy of parents’ records of KMC were comparable to nurses’ records. The results indicate that parents want to be together with their infant in the NICU and be actively involved in the infants’ care. Although parents may experience KMC as exhausting and uncomfortable, they still prefer KMC to conventional neonatal intensive care as it supports their parental role. Early initiation of KMC after birth appears to result in a longer total duration of KMC during the infants’ hospital stay.