Subsection: Caring for Parents of Transported Babies
In this section you will learn
A. Why it is important for parents to be involved in the care of their sick or at-risk baby
B. Some ways to encourage emotional attachment of parents to their sick or at-risk baby
C. Special considerations when providing information to parents about their baby’s condition
D. Special considerations for the hospitalized mother following transport of her baby
Involvement of the parents* is an extremely important aspect of the care of a sick or at-risk
baby. Early, frequent, and close parent contact with a sick newborn is essential to develop a
strong, healthy bond between parents and their baby. There are several things you can do for
the family of every transported baby that will aid this attachment process.
1. How Do You Encourage Emotional Attachment With the Baby?
Allow and encourage parents to enter the nursery to visit their baby before the transport team
arrives. This can be done without any interruption in the care being given to the baby. In fact, it is
important not to change a baby’s care (unless the baby’s condition changes) during parental visits.
There are a few simple techniques that can be used to help foster the development of emotional
ties between parent and child prior to transport.
Seeing and touching the baby. All the equipment should be explained, but lengthy details are
rarely needed at this time. Most parents focus immediately on their baby; some parents need
more help. Have them stroke the baby’s palm. Even the smallest and sickest babies usually
can grasp a parent’s finger.
Digital color snapshot of the baby. Discuss this and obtain permission from the parents
before taking a photograph. All equipment should remain attached to the baby when the
picture is taken. Most parents see past the apparatus and focus on their baby.
Handprint(s) and/or footprint(s) of the baby for the parents to keep.
Whether a baby is a perfectly formed, but tiny, preterm baby or a full-term baby with a malfor-
mation, he or she is not the “ideal” healthy baby every parent imagines and hopes for.
Parents need to establish strong bonds of affection and commitment to their child during the
stressful, rocky period of illness.
Parents of a baby with a malformation should be encouraged to see and touch their baby.
What a parent imagines is almost always far worse than the baby’s real condition. Parents need
an honest and accurate understanding of their baby’s condition so that they can begin to deal
with the real problems that confront their baby and themselves. Efforts to protect the parents
by heavy sedation of the mother or by restricting contact with the baby are not helpful.
The attitude of “don’t get involved because the baby will probably die” is also not realistic or
helpful. Most sick babies do not die. Most preterm babies, given proper care, live and have no
residual problems. Most term, sick babies also live and do well. Even if a baby dies, grieving is
more easily accomplished and resolved when parents have close and caring ties with their baby
than when they feel distant, isolated, or unimportant to their baby.
*The term parents indicates mother and father or, in the case of an absent father, a second person of the mother’s
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