Written by Laura Klein, Regional Clinical Nurse Educator, NICU

World Prematurity Day: NICU families share heartwarming moments with their preemie

14/11/2016 8:00:50 AM | 1 comments |
I’ve been a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse for 14 years and I currently work at Surrey Memorial Hospital. I’ve seen the range of emotions families experience when their baby is admitted to the NICU. Families express their love for their baby but they can also feel intimidated by the NICU environment, fearful for their baby’s health and uncertain about what to expect. In my job I not only care for critically ill babies but I also guide and support families through this stressful and unexpected journey.

In Fraser Health there are four hospitals that provide specialized care for infants: Royal Columbian Hospital, Surrey Memorial Hospital, Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Burnaby Hospital.  Last year, we had 15,570 births at our eight maternity hospitals and cared for 1,837 infants in our four NICUs.

Fraser Health believes that families are at the heart of every decision. We welcome them as partners in their baby’s care, and we value their needs, preferences and cultural beliefs. Fraser Health NICUs value family-centered care and there is a great deal of evidence that shows babies benefit when families are involved and participate in all aspects of care.

November 17 is World Prematurity Day. World Prematurity Day honors babies, their families and their caregivers. The aim of World Prematurity Day is to bring awareness to premature birth, promote programs that prevent preterm birth and improve care for babies that are born too soon. In celebration of World Prematurity Day, we are having a week-long Skin-to-Skinathon.

One of the most rewarding moments in the NICU is watching a parent hold their baby skin to skin. Skin to skin cuddling has many benefits for parents and their baby.

Skin to skin cuddling can:

  • Help your baby adjust to the world outside the womb
  • Regulate your baby’s body systems
  • Decrease your baby’s stress and pain
  • Protect your baby from infections
  • Improve your baby’s weight gain
  • Increase your baby’s head circumference and brain development
  • Enhance parental attachment and bonding
  • Increase your ability to understand and respond to your baby’s cues
  • Decrease feelings of separation
  • Lower postpartum depression and/or anxiety
  • Improve a mother’s overall well-being by lowering her blood pressure and slowing her heart beat
  • Help mothers make more breastmilk
When a baby cannot be held skin to skin then parents are encouraged to give their baby a hand hug. This involves gently cupping your baby’s head and feet with your hands. It is important to keep your hands steady and still while you give your baby a hand hug.

Families share their heartwarming skin to skin experiences


“We watched little Lucas in his incubator for over a week before we could hold him. To be able to hold him tight was one of the best feelings in the world. In a time where as parents you don’t feel able to do much for your child, skin to skin is a chance to not only show love to our little one but also to feel loved and needed ourselves. Lucas loves his cuddles with mom and dad and we see him noticeably more calm and settled when he is being held skin to skin”. - Josh, Michelle and Lucas

 “Skin to skin comforts and calms my baby. I feel that I am protecting my baby, and it feels good.”  - Vinita

“I feel like when she breathes, I breathe, and we are in sync together. It helps me feel like a Mom, and I can bond with her.”  - Riz


"My twins Gage and Hunter were born on October 28 at 28 weeks gestation. I was able to have skin-to-skin with Hunter the next day, but it wasn't until they were a week old that I was able to hold Gage. Finally having him in my arms, being able to touch and smell him, to see his tiny eyelashes and watch his little lips curve and yawn, is a feeling that I will never forget. Now I look forward to the day when I can hold both of them together." - Alissa


“Doing skin-to-skin cuddles with Judah makes me feel at home with him - it calms him, and me, and reminds me that this is right where I need to be!” - Jenna

The NICU is an inspiring place to work. Every day I witness the strength of the babies, the courage of their families and the compassion of the entire health care team.

Learn more

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: what to expect
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: video tours

Monica Nicol
thank you for sharing your story Laura. You and the rest of the FH NICU teams are an inspiration to me!
21/11/2016 11:44:28 AM

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