How to help
your NICU baby
How to bond with your baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and speed up the healing process? Apply skin-to-skin care in the NICU.
Maybe you're one of those 30 parents that googled “Do NICU babies know their mom” this month, because you worry about bonding with your NICU baby. Or perhaps you searched for more information, because you want to know how you can improve the health of your baby now he or she receives intensive care.
Faster healing through skin-to-skin care
Laying skin-to-skin with mothers (often called Kangaroo Mother Care) as well as with fathers several times per day improves the physical health of NICU babies. Several scientific studies have proven the benefits of skin-to-skin in the NICU. Because of skin-to-skin in the NICU, preemies and low-birth-weight babies have better chances to survive, and heal and grow fasterCONY.
In this skin-to-skin position, you basically serve as a human incubator - a better one. Your chest can decrease or increase their temperature when the baby feels hot or coldCC and because your baby can hear your heartbeat and sense your breathing, their heart rate and breathing stabilizes. They relax and process more oxygen. They are literally able to catch their breathNY. Often, they are so relaxed that they fall asleep on the parent’s chest, thereby conserving caloriesHALU. And through increased skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding will be easier established and prolongedNY. A calm baby can find the nipple more easily and keep on drinking mother milk, which is the best source of energy for your baby.
Better bonding through skin-to-skin
Laying skin-to-skin in the NICU is also the best way to form an emotional bond with your baby in in the NICUFLNY.Your body will produce big amounts of oxytocin. This is also called the cuddle hormone or love hormone. It makes you less stressed, happier and more loving. This oxytocin also reduces the chance of developing a postpartum depressionFLNY.
ECG adhesive wires can be a bit of a problem during NICU skin-to-skin moments. Stress about getting caught in the wires or pulling a wire should not stand in the way of relaxed NICU skin-to-skin moments. That’s why you should ask your nurse to use the wireless Bambi Belt for monitoring your NICU baby’s vital signs.
Don’t be a bystander
The other most important advice we can give to parents of a NICU baby such as yours is: “Don’t be a bystander!”. Hospitals that practice “Family Integrated Care” require parents to be present in the NICU for a minimum of hours and to care for their babyFR. NICU nurses encourage, support and teach parents to feed, change diapers, bath, and provide oral medicationsMC. This FICare approach leads to healthier babies. They grow fasterCHFROB, have less stressCHFR and receive less antibiotic treatmentsMC. Their mental and psychomotor development is betterFROB. Their NICU stay and hospital stay are shorterMCPT and they are less likely to be readmittedCHPT. So, by taking over tasks in the NICU, your baby will be able to go home with you earlier.
Becoming a confident primary caregiver
When you as a parent are able to take over all care tasks in the NICU (with the exception of ventilation, adjustment of monitor settings, and administration of IV fluids and IV medications), you feel more confident and less stressedPACH. Mothers are more able to breastfeed and for a longer periodFRCHMC. In addition, the hospital staff gains more trust in you as primary caregiver, which results in earlier dischargeNY.
Making Family Centered Care easier
The Bambi Belt may help to simplify Family Integrated Care by eliminating wired vital signs monitoring.
We forsee that parents are less afraid to pick up their loved one. They’re more able to take care of their newborn baby and more easily hold them skin-to-skin. Staff get to safely monitor babies without being afraid of harming babies’ skin. In these ways, the Bambi Belt may reduce stress in babies, parents and staff and improves the parent-child bonding.