Hospitals are taking premature infants out of isolated incubators and into rooms where they can have close contact with their parents.
Hospitals are rethinking the way they care for premature babies.
The traditional neonatal intensive-care unit puts preterm babies—those born before 37 weeks—into incubators in a room with six to eight other infants. But hospitals are starting to realize that premature infants benefit from close physical contact with their parents.
One of the latest NICUs, in Beacon Children’s Hospital of South Bend, Ind., was designed around this idea. There, families can stay together for weeks or months in private rooms that facilitate skin-to-skin contact—also known as kangaroo care—between parent and baby.
The first hours after a baby is welcomed into the world may have short- and long-term consequences. Evidence has shown that newborns who are placed skin to skin with their mothers immediately after birth have better respiratory, temperature, and glucose stability, and significantly less crying that stipulates less stress.
An illustration of a fetal lamb inside the “artificial womb” device, which mimics the conditions inside a pregnant animal.- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Scientists have created an “artificial womb” in the hopes of someday using the device to save babies born extremely prematurely.
So far the device has only been tested on fetal lambs. A study published Tuesday involving eight animals found the device appears effective at enabling very premature fetuses to develop normally for about a month.
“We’ve been extremely successful in replacing the conditions in the womb in our lamb model,” says Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who led the study published in the journal Nature Communications.
“They’ve had normal growth. They’ve had normal lung maturation. They’ve had normal brain maturation. They’ve had normal development in every way that we can measure it,” Flake says.
Flake says the group hopes to test the device on very premature human babies within three to five years.
“What we tried to do is develop a system that mimics the environment of the womb as closely as possible,” Flake says. “It’s basically an artificial womb.”
Carmela Torres was 18 when she became pregnant for the first time. It was 1987 and she and her now-husband, Pablo Hernandez, were two idealistic young Colombians born in the coastal region of Montería who moved to the capital, Bogotá, in search of freedom and a better life. When Torres told her father she was expecting, so angered was he by the thought of his daughter having a child out of wedlock that they didn’t speak to each other for years.
Before she had a chance to hold him, her baby was whisked off to a neonatal intensive-care unit. Torres was simply told to get dressed and go home. “I didn’t even get to touch him,” she says. “They said I could come back and see him but the visiting times were very restricted—just a couple of hours a day. When I did visit I was allowed to look but not touch.”
(click link above to read the story on theatlantic.com)
More and more research has said there are benefits to keeping the umbilical cord attached for several minutes after childbirth ― a practice known as “delayed cord clamping.” But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has held off from endorsing the practice, saying there was insufficient evidence to support it universally.
This week ACOG issued new guidelines changing its stance. In the first policy opinion on the topic issued since 2012, the group now recommends that doctors and midwives hold off on clamping all healthy newborns’ cords for at least 30 to 60 seconds.
“While there are various recommendations regarding optimal timing for delayed umbilical cord clamping, there has been increased evidence that shows that the practice in and of itself has clear health benefits for both [all] infants,” Dr. Maria Mascola, lead author of the new ACOG opinion, wrote in a press release. “And, in most cases, this does not interfere with early care, including drying and stimulating for the first breath and immediate skin-to-skin contact.”
(click link to read the entire article on HuffingtonPost.com)
If you’re questioning the rightness of your desire to pick up your baby when he cries, or lie beside him as he falls to sleep, read this.
“He’s got you wrapped around his little finger.” “She’ll never learn if you do whatever she demands.” “He needs to learn to self-settle.”
These are phrases every new parent is inundated with by well-meaning strangers. Despite the journey to becoming parents being one filled with much anticipation and joyful excitement, we live in a world that seemingly undervalues normal physiological behaviour in babies, and places way too much emphasis on the quest for them to be independent in their own entities. We are warned of creating “bad habits” with our children by being there for them when they need us, and we are chastised for wanting our babies in our beds near us at night time or for feeding overnight.
(click to read the entire article on mothering.com)
If we spend time thinking about it (which we often don’t), most of us believe we’ll transition into motherhood easily. I’m sure lots of women have no problems in those early heady days of being a first time mom. But I’d also be willing to bet that even the moms who look like they were born to smile at their babies (and manage to find time to take a shower) have ups and downs at the beginning.
With the vantage of hindsight, a lot of parents confess that the early days of life with a new baby were hard. Many moms I’ve talked to over the years have had trouble bonding with their babies, a process they assumed would be natural and easy. (I’ve written about my difficulties bonding with my second born here.)