If a baby isn't quite fully developed at birth, or needs some extra care, he or she might end up in a hospital's NICU, or neonatal intensive care unit. That can be tough on new moms and dads, who don't get a lot of the same experiences other parents do with their newborns. But something called "kangarooing" can help them bond with baby, and Geisinger Medical Center just wrapped up an event encouraging the practice.
We found 6-week-old Jacob Luke Grimm snuggling under his mom Betsy's shirt. Betsy Grimm, from Sunbury, was admitted to Geisinger Medical Center near Danville when her water broke just 24 weeks into her pregnancy.
"My due date is July 23rd. I had him May 6th. He was born at 28 weeks, 6 days," she says.
Jacob weighed less than three pounds at birth, and ended up in Geisinger Medical Center's NICU. We found his mom doing something called kangaroo care, or skin-on-skin contact.
"Strip them down to their diaper and lay them on top of your chest. It's relaxing for him, and it's relaxing for me as well," said Betsy.
It's so important, the staff here at Geisinger recently held a marathon of sorts, called a Kangaroo-A-Thon. Paper cut-outs of kangaroos line the walls here. For each hour family members "kangarooed," they got a ticket that went into a drawing for prizes.
Phoebe Beckley, a March of Dimes NICU Family Support Specialist, thought it was a great way to encourage families to do it, considering how beneficial it is to the newborn.
"By holding them skin-to-skin, the mother regulates their temperature, heart rate, and breathing rate. When all of that can be controlled, the baby can heal," said Beckley.
Experts say even brain development occurs during the practice.
"I think it's pretty cool, and I know in third world countries it's almost standard practice because they maybe don't have the isolets like we have. It's pretty cool," according to Kayla Farr, a NICU nurse.
Betsy says at this point, she'll do whatever she can to help little Jacob. She can already tell he's a lot less fussy during kangaroo care.
"He's just calm. They fall into a deep sleep," she noted.