Wednesday 2 November 2011

Neonatal Research - A Mother's Perspective

On several of the Facebook pages I am a member of the reporting of this piece of research is being shared today. I find it amazing how much research is done in neonatal units and every week there seems to be something new being shared. However the recommendation that has come out of this piece of research frustrates me.

So in a nutshell the researchers were looking at stress in the NICU, the procedures etc that cause tiny babies to feel stress, and they then measured their brain size to see if this stress impacted on brain development. The finding was that the effect is variable. The recommendation is that more research is done to look at ways to minimise stress in the NICU and thus minimise any potential impact on brain development.

I find this really frustrating, because surely we know this already? It is clear from what I have read that the following works to minismise stress on neonates.

  • A connection with the mother and father or other significant care giver
  • Kangaroo care when appropriate (and the earlier the better)
  • Containment holding and positive touch particularly when kangaroo care is not possible
  • Developmental care - minimising exposure to noise and light, and utilising incubator covers etc
  • Minimising stress of procedures - doing procedures whilst baby in kangaroo hold if possible, utilising breastmilk as mouthcare, utilising sucrose in the absence of breastmilk.
What annoys me, as a mother, that in many units, there is no support of parents, no education, or such education and support is extremely variable. Whilst I welcome research, why reinvent the wheel? Surely there needs to be more funding of family support workers, more information in easy to understand formats for parents, and better care of families.

And surely, it is worth investigating, if we are going to research neonatal stress, what impact the parents' state of mind has on the baby? I hear it said all the time "happy mummy, happy baby" surely, giving more support and care to parents will improve neonatal outcomes.

I could be completely off base but surely NICU stress and neonates is a given, and we know stress has a negative impact on brain development, surely now we should be looking more at prevention of stress and working actively with babies and parents, and importantly funding this support.

1 comment: