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How Kangaroo Care helps babies thrive and bond with parents

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- May 15 is National Kangaroo Care Awareness Day. The term came about in the 1970s in response to the 70 percent death rate of pre-term babies in Bogota, Colombia. Lack of attention also was causing infection and respiratory problems in babies.

At St. Luke's Hospital, 90% of the babies and mothers practice Kangaroo Care. Fathers benefit from the bonding time with their babies as well.

For Hannah Thomas and her son Trevor, that skin-to-skin contact has made a world of difference.

"It really benefits him and I also noticed it helps with my milk supply, too; The extra cuddles help with all of that," Thomas said.

Trevor is wearing only a diaper as Thomas cuddles him to her bare chest in an upright position, covering his back with a blanket.

Thomas and Trevor have come a long way since Trevor was born two and a half weeks early and endured a very traumatic birth.

"It collapsed his lungs," Thomas said. "He didn't have a heart rate and swallowed a bunch of amniotic fluid, got the cord wrapped around his neck and it broke a clavicle. My body pushed him out really hard."

RELATED: What is kangaroo care for babies and why do health experts encourage it?

That skin-to-skin contact with his mother helped him not only survive, but also thrive.

Holly Flynn is the Neonatal Outreach Coordinator at St. Luke's Hospital.

"It helps with temperature regulation. It helps babies grow better, helps them gain weight faster, eat better and in turn, go home sooner," Flynn said.

For Trevor, he's well on his way to that day. Kangaroo care has helped Hannah and Trevor through their shared trauma.

Thomas lost a lot of blood during her childbirth. Then, she was separated from Trevor -- and her husband -- who attended their son when he was whisked away by doctors right after his birth.

"To have 15 nurses and doctors poking at you, putting tubes down your throat and bringing you back to life. I'm sure it's not a very pleasant experience for a brand new baby," Thomas said.

Today, Thomas is counting her blessings, knowing that she is helping her son thrive after all of that trauma.

"I provide a little bit of comfort for him in that way," Thomas said.

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Michele White

Cedar Rapids Multimedia Journalist

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