GWH introduces 'first cuddle' initiative for premature babies

Posted: November 22, 2018

Building bonds between mothers and babies

Amie Turner - patient storyA new initiative is being introduced at the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to allow mothers of babies born prematurely to have a first cuddle in the delivery room.

This will benefit both the mother and baby in reducing maternal stress and improving bonding and emotional wellness as well as supporting baby's heart rate stabilisation, breathing patterns and blood oxygen levels.

Babies born prematurely are often transferred to special care and placed in an incubator for immediate breathing support before the parents have any contact.

But neonatologists at the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust know how important it is for babies to have that initial skin-to-skin contact with their mother and to form a bond as soon as possible.

The new initiative will allow all mothers, whether they give birth naturally or by caesarean section to have that important bonding time in a first cuddle with their premature baby, which can often be delayed by hours or even days.

Dr Sarah Bates, Paediatric Consultant and Neonatologist, said: "Often, mothers who have delivered a baby prematurely miss out on a lot of aspects of their pregnancy that other mothers may take for granted.

"We want to support these families to have those special experiences by allowing parents a first cuddle with their baby before they are taken to special care.

"Having a premature baby can often be a very distressing time and this new initiative will go some way to minimising that stress as well as benefitting premature babies enormously from contact with their mother.

"We want this to start as early as possible."

Amie Turner gave birth to her daughter Lillie-Rose in October, at just 28 weeks.

She was one of the first mothers to experience a first cuddle with her baby before Lillie-Rose was taken to SCBU.

"Lillie-Rose was just on my chest, it felt so special," Amie said.

"I just thought 'she's here, she's mine and she's real'.

"It is easy to lose that bond when you are no longer carrying a baby, so I really do think it is the best way to get the initial bond going.

"The skin-to-skin contact made it even more special."

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