Description: Research has consistently shown positive effects of skin to skin contact between parents and premature infants while the infants are being cared for in neonatal intensive care units or NICU’s. The study discussed in this article looked at the possible effects of this practice on mothers rather than infants. What do you think they found?
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics – Press Release – Skin-to-Skin Contact with Baby in Neonatal Unit Decreases Maternal Stress Levels
Date: October 26, 2015
Photo Credit: http://www.kangaroomothercare.com/
Research (samples cited below) has consistently shown that her parents are allowed into neonatal intensive care nurseries and involved in the day-to-day care of their premature infants that infant development up to their appropriate gestational age proceeds in more positive ways. One of the key features of the sort of parental involvement is something called kangaroo style contact which essentially involves is the picture show direct skin to skin contact between either parent and the premature infant. Observed benefits include stabilization of heart rate and breathing patterns, increase in blood oxygen levels, gains in both sleep time and wait, less crying, more effective breast-feeding, and earlier hospital discharge. The study, rather than examining the effects of this kind of care on the premature developing infant, looked at its effects on the infant’s mother. What they found was a significant reduction in the mother’s reports of their stress levels especially as these related to the parents general feelings of helplessness and inability to protect their infants from pain and their overall general experience in the NICU.
Questions for Discussion:
- What are some of the reasons you might suggest for the observed effect of kangaroo style contact a maternal stress levels?
- What are some of the ways in which positive changes in maternal stress levels might affect both short and long-term (after hospital discharge) development for premature infants?
- What are some of the policy implications for how hospitals manage their neonatal intensive care units and their birthing units in general of the results of this particular study?
References (Read Further):
Neu, M. (2004). Kangaroo care: Is it for everyone?. Neonatal Network, 23(5), 47-54.
Feldman, R., Weller, A., Sirota, L., & Eidelman, A. I. (2003). Testing a family intervention hypothesis: the contribution of mother-infant skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) to family interaction, proximity, and touch. Journal of Family Psychology, 17(1), 94.
Feldman, R., Eidelman, A. I., Sirota, L., & Weller, A. (2002). Comparison of skin-to-skin (kangaroo) and traditional care: parenting outcomes and preterm infant development. Pediatrics, 110(1), 16-26.