Intensive Care Medicine and Parents Essay

Submitted By AprilJanee21
Words: 1148
Pages: 5

Family-centered care, which acknowledges parents as partners in care, is a desirable and essential part of neonatal nursing. There has been extensive research on parents’ experiences of parenting in neonatal intensive care units (NICU), but there is little research on nurses’ experiences of being in these enduring close relationships. More than 500,000 babies are born prematurely in the United States each year (March of Dimes. 2009). Infants born prematurely often require a lengthy stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for weeks or even months. This hospitalization of a child is a stressful experience for the parents (Peebles-Klelger. 2000). Further, a number of investigators have reported that the hospitalization of a newborn infant in the (NICU) is traumatic for the parents with separation from the infant being particularly difficult (McGrath. 2001: Griffin, et al.. 1997). The parents and extended family may not see the newest addition to the family for several hours or days depending on the acuity of the child's condition. This delay in contact with the child impedes the bonding between the mother/family and the child. Maternal-child bonding is critical to the healthy development of the child and has been shown to be a significant predictor in the child's cognitive and social development (Cusson & Lee. 1994). Supporting maternal child bonding in the NICU is a challenge because of the restrictive environment of the setting and life-sustaining medical procedures taking priority over this bonding experience. The stress of having an infant in the NICU also places a strain on the parents' relationship and evokes negative feelings including stress, depression and anxiety (Shaw, et al., 2006). The purpose of communication in NICUs is not only to inform parents of their child’s clinical condition; the staff must also educate and guide parents so that they can actively participate in caring for their child and become true “partners” with the medical team in the decision-making process. Furthermore, the staff must also use their communication skills to understand and contain the anxieties and emotions of parents, supporting and comforting them through the most critical moments of their child’s illness and possibly even bereavement. This is certainly not an easy task and requires not only awareness and compassion, but also adequate and efficient training. Nowadays, parents in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) are regarded as important contributors to the caring team, providing care to the premature child. Consequently, providing support to parents has become a crucial part of nurses’ responsibilities. The role of a neonatal intensive care nurse is diverse and demanding, both technically and interpersonally. Even if close parent–nurse collaboration is desirable, parents’ presence and involvement seems to challenge the professional relationship. Nurses should be capable of being sufficiently involved to participate emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, while retaining adequate distance to maintain control and use their involvement to assist patients. Becoming parents to a premature child introduces parents to an alien world; their child is different, their parenting role is different and, not least, the caring context is different from what they would have anticipated and prepared for. Finding their way in this marginal situation makes support and respect from professionals important. Understanding parents’ situations is also crucial to nurses; they express how they strive to support parents without being intrusive or prejudiced. Taking care of vulnerable parents is an important part of the nursing role and failing to build a relationship is experienced as painful. That nurses carry such memories with them shows how great an impact these experiences have professionally, but also emotionally and personally. Because parents and nurses are together in the NICU for weeks and months,