JUPITER, Fla. — For Cristal Nunez, the birth of her third child, Ellieana, was pretty scary.
“We came to the hospital unexpectedly in premature labor,” she said. “I wanted to know, is she going to be OK? Is she going to be breathing?”
Cristal’s daughter ended up in the NICU.
“Once the nurses gave me the OK to see her, I flew there as quickly as I could,” she explained.
Nunez got the go-ahead to hold her for the first time. Her nurse, encouraging skin-to-skin on her chest, otherwise known as Kangaroo care.
“She (her nurse) said she knows who you are, she can smell you, she knows your voice,” said Nunez.
There is a new push for the practice at Jupiter Medical Center.
“That skin-to-skin bond with babies, it’s so important bonding,” said Kerri D’Amico, a NICU nurse at Jupiter Medical Center. “Kangaroo care is chest to chest with baby.”
She said it’s especially important in the NICU, but hospital-wide, there is a new protocol in place.
“Making sure it is consistent and across the board in OB and Labor and Delivery, postpartum and through the NICU,” said D’Amico.
An increased push for skin-to-skin.
“As long as baby is stable, crying, they can do all their initial care on mom, and that is to increase bond with mom, regulate their vital signs, regulate their temperature, and just to make that connection, improves breastfeeding rates and milk supply,” she explained.
In the NICU, nurses help mom or dad.
“We can unwrap them, undress them, put them directly skin-to-skin with mom,” said D’Amico.
The protocol also includes education for nurses.
“Building the confidence with nurses too, that they can have the baby skin-to-skin right after delivery,” she said. “They can do it more frequently. How beneficial it is, because as nurses, we have our education, we have our experience, but it might not have been a piece picked up from where they’ve been before.”
For mothers who have c-sections, they’ll try to do kangaroo care as quickly as possible, once it is deemed safe.
“The awareness more for it, is because of the benefits to moms and babies,” said D’Amico. “It decreases the risks of infection, helps improve breastfeeding rates, regulates babies vital signs and temperature, bonding with moms, it decreases the anxiety.”
They hope the education also increases confidence for new parents to ask for it, even in the NICU, where they may feel helpless.
“I had no idea what is was or how it worked,” said Nunez. “What it meant and how much it helped them heal and be able to go home… Put her, basically her skin to my skin, to where she could hear and feel me, and I could feel her completely. She just laid on my chest, and I would hold her, and she would hear my heart beat.”
Jupiter Medical Center is beginning to hold classes again for birth and expecting parents. This will be part of the education.
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