Active Parenting in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
Presented in National Medical Students Paediatric Conference (NMSPC) 2013, Brighton, UK
Genevieve Booth
University of Birmingham, UK
Background
Having a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is emotionally difficult and fails to meet many parents' expectations of parenthood. Feelings of uselessness and distance are relatively commonplace and many parents are cautious and unsure about what they can and should safely do with their child. Reassurance from staff, being able to provide care, breast milk, holding or touching the infant all help parents to feel more connected to their child. Parents also desire private time, are eager to be involved in the care of their baby, and want to be informed about their child's status. The need for family-centered care which actively encourages and supports normal, involved parenthood to the fullest extent has now been highlighted by several guidelines, and is a recommended topic of audit in several of these.

Aims
To establish whether the parents of babies in the NICU of the Women's Hospital, Birmingham feel actively involved in the care of their baby , to compare the results to standards, and to gather suggestions for improvement.

Methods
A questionnaire based on the standards and literature review was distributed to parents in the NICU over a period of months. There were 23 responders, whose feedback was compared to standards to generate suggested areas for improvement.

Results & Conclusions
Feedback was subdivided into 5 areas: "Contact", "Access and Private Time", "Feeding and Caring", "Informed and Involved" and "Recognised as a Parent". Feedback was largely positive, with parents reporting they felt supported in most areas and that their needs were recognised by staff. Parents were found to be providing all feasible care to their baby with very few exceptions. Some areas had room for improvement, particularly: facilities for other children and overnight facilities, greater privacy, and certain forms of information and updating that parents requested.
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