Health and Family Services Cabinet
Kentucky Birthing Hospitals Receive Valuable Kangaroo Care Training
WIC, UofL Partner to Promote Program, Improve Breastfeeding Rates
The Kentucky Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program and the University of Louisville (UofL) Hospital Center for Women and Infants have reached an important milestone in helping to improve the state’s breastfeeding rates, training 100 percent of Kentucky’s birthing hospitals in “Kangaroo Care” practices.
Kentucky WIC partnered with UofL in 2011 to promote and train hospital staff members in Kangaroo Care, which promotes skin-to-skin contact with the mother and baby in the hours immediately after birth and throughout the hospital stay. Since that time, the two entities have worked diligently to create and implement a series of statewide trainings for the rest of the state’s birthing hospitals.
“We are thrilled by the overwhelming support and participation from Kentucky’s birthing hospitals in making Kangaroo Care the standard across the state,” said Kentucky WIC Director Fran Hawkins. “The Kangaroo Care program resulted in dramatic improvements in breastfeeding rates among women who gave birth at UofL, and we expect to see this success replicated statewide. This is definitely a step forward for women and children’s health in Kentucky.”
Kangaroo Care is based on the widely held belief that “skin-to-skin” contact between mothers and infants promotes breastfeeding and bonding. The basic concept involves placing a newborn chest down on the mother or father’s bare chest, which generates warmth and provides access to breastfeeding from the mother.
Named for its similarity to the manner in which certain marsupials carry their young, the program was initially developed to care for preterm infants in areas where incubators are either unavailable or unreliable. Since that time, more medical facilities have adopted the practice for both pre-term and full-term babies due to its benefits.
In Kentucky, the program was launched by staff at UofL Hospital in 2007, and a significant increase in breastfeeding rates resulted among women who gave birth there. As a part of the program, UofL staff developed a “Jumping into Kangaroo Care Toolkit” for use at other facilities. This toolkit was used in the trainings conducted with WIC staff for all the birthing hospitals.
The trainings also included instruction on how to use the Kangaroo Care toolkit and breastfeeding data collection. Kangaroo Care Champions, nurses who’ve participated in the program at UofL, helped run the trainings and worked individually with hospital staff.
“It is very rewarding to work in a hospital with people who are willing to listen to new ideas and excited to implement changes that are considered to be best care for our patients,” said Dana Carpenter, Prenatal Educator, TJ Samson Hospital, Glasgow, Ky. “The planning and training took a lot of work, but the work paid off as our transition to Kangaroo Care has gone very smoothly. The compliments from our moms and dads have been extremely positive. Although our babies are not ‘talking’ it is clear that they are also very happy.”
“Skin-to-skin care is moving to become the evidence-based standard in patient care,” said WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator Marlene Goodlett. “This project will help hospitals strengthen their services to maintain high levels of patient satisfaction and breastfeeding initiation.”
“We are pleased to be a part of it – and to see such great support for mothers and infants in Kentucky,” she said.
Questions about Kangaroo Care or other Kentucky WIC breastfeeding initiatives can be directed to Marlene Goodlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.