Kangaroo Mother Care Challenge World Prematurity Day 2016

What is KMC?

Kangaroo mother care (KMC) is the practice of providing continuous skin-to-skin contact with a premature or low birthweight baby for 20 hours or more every day and exclusive breastfeeding. KMC is an effective way to help meet the baby’s basic needs for warmth, nutrition, stimulation, and protection from infection.

What is the KMC Challenge?

Save the Children launched the “Kangaroo Mother Care Challenge” at the 2016 Women Deliver conference to raise awareness about some of the realities of caring for a pre-term baby with KMC.

The challenge asked people to practice KMC with a baby doll for 24 hours (including sleeping in an upright position with the baby still in skin-to-skin contact). All of the 25 people who accepted the challenge told us what an eye-opening experience it was.

The Challenge Continues...

Despite its potential to save thousands of babies, KMC has not been successfully scaled up in either high-income or low-income settings. Read about the barriers here.

Until KMC is widely practiced, we will continue to raise awareness about its importance.

We also want to demonstrate the physical reality a mother or other caregiver experiences when providing KMC. While it may be lower cost than an incubator, there are still associated costs to the mother, family, and healthy system.

As part of our advocacy for global scale-up of KMC, Save the Children is bringing the KMC Challenge to global conferences and events. During World Prematurity Day 2016 Save the Children offices in Washington, DC, and Malawi took the KMC challenge. Check out some of the experiences and testimonials from past participants below!

"As a mother of two, I embraced the chance to take part in a challenge to care for a premature baby for the day. My eldest daughter was tiny when she was born and I remembered how important body contact with me was in the first few months of life. While I was easily able to hold my baby for the entire work day, I could also appreciate how having a real live baby attached to me would be rewarding, but also challenging, as you do need to be attentive to movements, hunger cries, full diapers, etc. I can imagine how challenging this would be if I were to have been involved in activities more strenuous than sitting at my desk and going to office meetings." -Wendy Blanpied, Child Protection Senior Specialist

“It wasn’t easy. You are uncomfortable and limited in what you can do, but you have this baby always next to you so the bond can be stronger and a good comfort to the baby. I had to go to the bank during the challenge and it was a mixed reaction. People didn’t understand. I explained KMC to them: You are trying to save a life. We need to support mothers and give them what they need so the baby can survive.” -Mavis Khondiwa, Grants Coordinator for SC US projects

“Preemies are so delicate, so tiny, and KMC is so much more than just a hands-free baby solution. I was very aware of how I was walking and sitting—I didn’t want any unnecessary jostling or risk for the baby. And while there were a few people who were caught off guard by the baby, everyone I saw was happy to learn more about KMC and how it can, and does, save lives around the world.” -Erin Lauer, Community Preparedness Manager

“Through what I went through, I think women need more support. The man should be taking care of the child too and helping out through the whole KMC process.” -Nyashadzashe Kaunda, Awards Management Officer

“I now understand it is not an easy job – it is not even as difficult because with the challenge it is a doll that's not as heavy as a real baby and not crying. I now better understand what KMC is about and when I told people about it they said they would help advocate for mothers to practice KMC.” -Elizabeth Guzalo, Finance and Grants Officer

“This was an intense experience. I really felt for the women because we usually ask them to do KMC continuously, sometimes without a helper and in a very hot room. I learned that these women need continuous counseling and support.” -Lydia Chimtembo, MNH Specialist, SNL

“We are raising awareness about premature babies and that if given the chance, they can survive. We are saying let’s give the baby a chance – that is the campaign, not just here in Malawi but globally. We have to change our cultures where people see a premature baby and assume it can’t survive." -Jessie Lwanda, IT Coordinator

Why take the KMC Challenge?

  • The KMC Challenge helps participants experience some of the physical realities of providing KMC, recognizing that KMC with a doll is much easier than a live baby needing constant care.
  • It raises awareness about preterm birth including numbers and solutions for prevention and care.
  • The challenge can initiate discussion about the practice of KMC and its benefits as well as the enablers and barriers to scaling up this intervention.

Get Involved!

Click here to learn how you can take the KMC Challenge

Post this sticker on Facebook and Twitter after you take the challenge using the hashtag #KMCchallenge and share your experience!


All photos were taken on behalf of Save the Children

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