“Human beings are the living incubators”

With one of the highest mortality rates in the world, the tiny babies born in Tanzania begin life with the odds stacked against them. Kangaroo Mother Care J788N is a project based on the way that Kangaroos care for their joeys. By placing the babies skin to skin on their mother’s chest, this acts as a natural incubator and provides the babies with warmth, security, bonding, protection from infection with exclusive breastfeeding and increased weight gain. In a ward created in September 2012, over 300 of the country’s most vulnerable babies have made their way through the doors. The following is a true story as spoken by a Tanzanian mother.

My name is Sikujua Mshamu, 36 years old.

On 13th February 2017, my pregnancy gestation was 34 weeks, I started to experience labour pains by this time was in my daily routines in my retail shop. I made a call to my husband so that we take a way together to hospital within a short time he came and pick me to hospital. As soon as we arrived at the hospital was handled as emergency because my condition had changed ready for delivery. I was immediately taken to labour ward, nurses were there to assist me just in case there was a need to. I never knew if they were triplet, so I gave birth of three tiny little babies, they were small in size, light weight, it was scary because these features were new to me so it gave me a shock and (I had) many questions like will my babies really survive?

The nurses said they are premature babies. I had to be kept in kangaroo ward and not in normal postnatal ward, I have been hearing of Kangaroo a lot especial during my antenatal clinics, but I had never thought one day I will be a kangaroo mother, this is because my previous kids were never born premmies.

My three daughters weighed 1200g, 1200g and 1600g. Right after being transferred to Kangaroo Ward I was told to call my relative who would come to help me with the babies.

Lucky my mother in-law was around, she was called in Kangaroo Ward as well, we both were given information and knowledge about the premature babies and how to handle them through Kangaroo method.

This is what I liked first about Kangaroo, despite me being worried about these tiny babies. I knew and worried how my family members especially my mother in-law would talk about them. “Ohm these babies are cursed, ohm these babies have been bewitched” I knew this was coming and was so worried, what will my husband say, “look these kids are like rats”.

But since my mother in-law was the one who the nurses told her everything, my heart was at easy, she agreed on staying with me in the hospital and help kangaroo.  We stayed in the room for 8 days, sure was not hard time at all since all the mothers were happy with the babies and we could make stories to each other and everything seems to be normal. There were more tiny little babies than mine and I could witness them gaining weight each day, these gave me hopes after all mine weren’t so tiny.

Also could see other mothers being discharged each day, and others come in, this was great experience, its ease our doubt about premature babies, after all a lots of people are having these babies and its not something one should worry about.

On 20 February my babies’ weight were incredible 1500g, 1500g and 1700g, we were told the babies have run out of danger and we could take them home. Kangaroo method is the best thing ever happened to mother of premature babies in Tanzania, for me it helped all of my babies to survive and grow, despite having three of them, it was not hard handling them.

Second it has saved me the family chaos and turns my enemy into a friend, my mother in-law played a great role. We could shift babies once I needed to fed them, and she always kept a baby on her chest. She embraced kangaroo and her superstitious ideas had gone. I was set free with my premature babies.

Lastly I loved this method because everybody could fit in, I was not charged anything than normal charges, compare to if my babies would be kept in incubators and would all three get chances to be in incubators, I am so thankful for people who discovered these Kangaroo methods. Human beings are the living incubators.

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