Some families of preemies are blessed in that their circumstances allow them to spend a great deal of time in the NICU- even when a NICU stay can last months. Other moms and dads who need support after premature birth find themselves torn between spending time with their preemies and dealing with the needs of older siblings, responsibilities around the home, and work. For the latter parents of preemies, there’s no right answer. For some, sleep is the first thing to go. For others, particularly those whose preemies are in NICUs far from home, trusting the nurses and doctors to do their very best is a Monday-Friday reality.
No one is saying that parents who can be in the NICU all day, every day don’t have it hard, of course. Premature birth can be heart wrenchingly difficult no matter what your situation and all parents deserve support. But moms and dads who can’t be there in person have the added stress of wondering what leaps forward and setbacks their premature babies are facing on any given day.
That may change with a new hospital webcam system called NICVIEW that has been implemented in a few NICUs around the US. NICVIEW provides parents of preemies a secure, password protected view of their babies that they can access any time, day or night. That means that when a mom or dad has access to a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or computer, they have access to their babies.
Why is this access so important? In a CNN interview, Blake Rutherford, one of the four partners/founders of NICVIEW, said the NICU is “a special example of a time when parents need that bonding experience”. In the same article, Dr. David Hicks, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Jude Medical Center – one of the first hospitals to adopt NICVIEW – also mentioned bonding. “The family feels that they are really connected to their infant, which is important for bonding. In the past, the bonding process had to be instituted every few days,” he said. “The family dynamics are improved.”
NICVIEW is only in a handful of NICUs, but our hope is that more will get hooked up soon. There’s nothing like being there with your preemie, but being able to keep an eye on your baby without sacrificing time with other children, a job, or other relationships is a close second is far as we’re concerned.
What do you think? Would NICVIEW have made your NICU experience better?