When you find out you're pregnant, you don't think of potential complications that could happen, and are instead elated and joyful for the new little one to join your family.
But sometimes the unexpected happens and your baby is born prematurely or with serious health issues which may require a neonatal intensive care unit or NICU (an intensive care unit that specializes in caring for ill or premature infants).
Not only is it heart-wrenching to see your newborn hooked up to machines and IVs, but it's also difficult for postpartum mothers to not be able to be near their baby at all times.
An innovative hospital room may change part of this.
In Vancouver, Canada, one NICU has a proactive remedy for newborns and their mommies. According to Babble, BC Women's Hospital is now offering a special space that no other NICU in North America has-- "Moms and their NICU babies will be cared for in the same space, and parents will be allowed to stay with their babies 24/7."
NICU families partnered with the hospital in the design "...with the goal of creating a nurturing space for moms and their babies."
This special NICU has 70 private rooms, each of which are equipped with the necessary tools to monitor and care for sick or premature infants, with several of the rooms ready for twins, stated Babble.
The babies can stay in the same room for their entire hospitalization to add stability. The rooms have a calming ambiance as well as a bed for parents, a refrigerator and a storage unit. Because of the need for skin-to-skin contact often necessary to regulate babies' temperatures, they also have a chair specially designed to facilitate that. And for nursing mothers, the rooms include a breast pump.
Besides parents being able to stay with their babies around the clock, they are also more easily able to be part of the decision making process. If the new mothers are low-risk, and the babies are level 2 NICU, they can room together and have the same nurse to care for both mom and baby.
The hospital website states, "...the MotherBaby Care unit allows the mother to stay with her baby if admitted to the Intermediate Nursery. The mother receives postpartum care in the same room as the baby receives specialized health care. Mother and baby are cared for by the same nurse."
Having mom and baby in the same room reduces the postpartum stress on both mom and baby. Even with short NICU stays, both mom and baby can be impacted negatively, so enabling moms and babies to share a room reduces undesired consequences.
While this technology isn't available anywhere else at this point, hopefully more hospitals will take notice and act to find ways to accommodate mothers and babies in the NICU which will positively impact them both.
Have you had an infant stay in the NICU? Would a room to accommodate and treat both mother and baby have helped you?