Triplets who were born prematurely after just 28 weeks of pregnancy were all able to squeeze against their mum’s chest in what doctors call the ‘Kangaroo method’ whereby the newborns benefit from constant contact with their mother’s skin as it simulates the environment they experienced within the womb.
Roc, Aleix and Arai were born at the University Hospital Vall d’Hebron, located in the city of Barcelona, in the eastern Spanish region of Catalonia on 20th March.
Their birth was a surprise for their parents, as they expected to give birth in the 34th week of pregnancy, as the multiple births tend to be, but 60 days before that date, the mother’s water broke and she was rushed to hospital.
Doctor Felix Castillo, head of the Neonatology department of the Hospital Vall d’Hebron, said in an interview with Realpress: “During a pregnancy involving triplets means that three times space is occupied in the woman’s womb and for this reason, they tend to be born prematurely.”
The first to be born was Roc, weighing 1.28 kilogrammes (2.82 lbs), followed by Aleix, at 1.18 kilogrammes (2.20lbs) and finally Arai, at 1.20 kilogrammes (2.64 lbs).
Castillo explained that the triplets were born through caesarean and the pregnancy happened thanks to in vitro fertilisation.
As they were premature, which means born before the 37th week of pregnancy, and they weighed under 2.5 kilogrammes (5.51 lbs), it was decided that the kangaroo method would be crucial for the babies as it imitates the environment they experienced in the uterus.
The triplets also needed to spend some time in the Intensive Care Unit of the Neonatology department of the hospital as they needed oxygen.
The kangaroo method involves direct skin to skin contact between the mother and child, however, doctors were concerned that in this case, it would not be possible as the mum would need to fit all three babies on her chest at the same time.
Furthermore, the babies would need to be supplied with oxygen whilst resting on their mother further complicating the situation.
The doctor explained that they began using the kangaroo one week after the triplets were born at which point they weighed not much more than one kilogramme.
He added: “We moved to use the method quickly, with triplets it is common practice for both parents to share with two babies on the mother and one on the father.”
The kangaroo method has multiple benefits for the health of the baby, it improves the neurodevelopment of premature babies, their heartbeat frequency and breathing.
The smell, the voice and the heartbeat of the mum recreates the feelings that the baby experiences inside the uterus.
Doctor Castillo said that “mum and children are relaxed by the process, but the monitors also show that the baby improves in saturation, it decreases its stress, the heartbeats and the clinical situation is stabilized”.
So the babies, thanks to this method, sleep more, feed better, digest better and improve their neurodevelopment.
Premature babies commonly have health problems, such as the loss of corporal heat, issues with feeding and increased likelihood of suffering from infections.
Doctor Castillo added that: “it was heartwarming to see the face of the mum, the nurses and the assistance when the skin to skin method was done with the triplets at the same time.”
He also said that when the babies were on their mum: “her eyes were light up with joy and the three kids were very relaxed, as they have lived for 28 weeks together in their mum’s belly and gathering all three together, in contact with the mum, was an amazing part of this case”.
Premature babies tend to be released from the hospital if they do not have any chronic complications when they can feed with security and they are clinically stable.
The babies are still in the Intensive care unit of the hospital, being carefully cared for by the doctors and the parents, who generally spend all day with them, only going home at night.
As they have grown up, and now weigh around 2.2 kilogrammes (4.85 lbs), they cannot do the simultaneous kangaroo method anymore with the mum as according to Castilo “there is no longer room for all three of them so instead they take turns and the dad is also now involved in carrying out the method.”
The doctor explained that: “They are still very small, bear in mind that they are like in the 31 or 32 weeks of pregnancy, but they are fed through a catheter that is filled with the mum’s milk and the milk from other mums who donated to a milk bank of the hospital.”
He added that: “However, one of them is having intestine problems, so the feeding of that baby is currently being done through an IV.”
The doctor said that the babies will be released when they are able to feed by themselves, reach the 40-week mark, are not suffering from apnea and are clinically stable.
According to the Spanish Society of Neonatology, in Spain, 29,000 premature babies are born every year. It represents 75 per cent of the hospitalizations in the neonatology department.