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

North Island Seniors Housing Foundation takes the next step towards getting Trustee Road land

Seniors rejoice, Port Hardy council is very much in favour of helping… Continue reading

Should aquaculture programs be offered at North Island College in Port Hardy?

“I think it would be very timely to have an aquaculture program”

Island Health issues press release regarding Port Alice Health Centre service changes

Island Health will be hosting a community meeting in Port Alice Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. in the rec centre.

Vancouver Island Regional Library wants to team up with the Town of Port McNeill to build a new multi-use facility

“A new library for the town, as you know, will quickly become an exciting hub of literacy”

And the snowiest community on Vancouver Island is…

Black Press reporters break out their tape measures to determine winter warrior bragging rights

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

Committee member Russell Murray talks Oscar Hickes memorial hockey tournament

Oscar Hickes is taking place in Port Alice at the Doug Bondue Arena March 28-31.

LETTER: Is BC Hydro’s Step Two rate discriminatory?

“This charge is strictly a penalty and has nothing to do with the cost of energy.”

North Island Bantam Eagles hammer Nanaimo Clippers, finish playoffs strong

The Eagles wasted no time coming out and firing on the Clippers in the Feb. 9 game.

North Island Peewee Eagles win back to back games, move on to semi-final showdown

The Eagles are back Feb. 17 in a semi-final matchup against the Peninsula Eagles in Port McNeill.

Sports talk with Tyson: North Island Gazette’s 2018-2019 Minor Hockey Awards

Gazette Editor Tyson Whitney has compiled awards for the North Island’s minor hockey season.

Man in Vancouver Island hotel shooting pleads guilty to second-degree murder

Brandon Tyler Woody, from Victoria, to be sentenced in late March in B.C. Supreme Court

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Dog goes for a boat ride on Victoria Lake

The North Island Gazette wants your photographs, email them to editor@northislandgazette.com.

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Most Read