New mom Jessica practices Kangaroo Mother Care with her 3-week-old twins at Pumwani Maternity Hospital in Kenya. Photo: Peter Caton/Save the Children, March 2018.

New mom Jessica practices Kangaroo Mother Care with her 3-week-old twins at Pumwani Maternity Hospital in Kenya.

Red Noses Support Kangaroo Mother Care

While preparing for life with twins, Jessica never imagined she’d watch her newborn babies fight for their lives. But just three weeks ago, her babies were delivered weighing less than four pounds each. It’s been a trying experience that has left Jessica feeling grateful for her support system at Pumwani Maternity Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.

Thanks to a 2016 Red Nose Day grant, Save the Children supports Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) programs in seven of Nairobi’s hospitals to provide quality care to preterm and low-birth-weight babies. In a country where 22 of every 1,000 live births results in death, we aim to reach approximately 4,000 babies over the course of the project.

Jessica’s babies are wrapped on her chest much like a Kangaroo mother holds her young. The skin-to-skin contact is a method that’s proven effective for the growth of tiny babies by regulating their temperature and heartrate, encouraging breastfeeding, and promoting a bonding experience for mother and child.

Being a first-time mom to low-birth-weight babies comes with a unique set of challenges that Jessica is coping with thanks to support from the program and other mothers like her. “Being in a room with other KMC mothers gives me the morale,” she said. “The interaction amongst ourselves as mothers… there's something very instrumental and supportive about it.”

The KMC program at Pumwani includes a weekly support group session conducted by Dr. Orina, who instructs the mothers while they sit with very small babies wrapped on their chests. “Anyone can do Kangaroo Mother Care,” he tells the room. “You need to be willing from the bottom of your heart and your mind.”

He calls on certain mothers to share their own stories and encouragement. These are KMC Champion Mothers who have graduated the program and now dedicate their time to coaching others through the process.

25-year-old Stella is one of the Champion Mothers who helps Jessica practice KMC. Stella was a beneficiary of the program six months ago when her own twins were born under three pounds each. After graduating the program, she was inspired to return to Pumwani and help other mothers in need.


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