Sunday, April 11, 2010

NICU question

Tonya commented that she hopes this NICU I visited was the exception. I have not visited any other NICUs, but I think it is pretty standard, in both Canada and the U.S. Allopathic medicine has a tendency to fragment patients, separating their physical well being from their emotions and discrediting the impact of social interconnectedness. This tradition is slowly changing, but in order for change to be effective, it has to be a deep cultural change, which acknowledges how important wholeness, and touch, and social, emotional well being are to our health and quality of life. I think often, when NICUs are better than the one I saw, it is a concession rather than a culture change.
The NICU I visited has a reputation for being one of the 'worst' in our area as far as parental involvement (and breastfeeding support), so that is hopeful regarding the other ones. But even in the 'better' ones, babies often 'have to have stable temperature and blood pressure and heart rate BEFORE their mothers can hold them,' which is the opposite of what Nils Bergman has found in his research and practice with premature babies. Kangaroo care, touch, and being held is what helps babies stablize their temperatures, blood pressure, and heart rate (likely because their stress hormone levels drop).
Anyways, I thought I would respond to Tonya's comment with "Some are better, but the vast majority have a really long way to go." With a disclaimer that this is mostly based upon third party reports and friends and family who work in health care or have had babies in the NICU. So things might be better or worse than reported here. :)


Sara and family said...

I've heard that our NICU at VGH is really good about breastfeeding and staying with babies. The son of a friend of mine spent 2 months in NICU and never had formula. She also slept there occasionally, not every night.

I can't imagine being more than 5 feet away from my newborns so I can't fathom what this separation does to parent/child bonding but I'm sure most hospitals will support you or at least accommodate you if you become mama bear and refuse to leave your child's side.

Tonya said...

Thank you for this post! It is sad how we view our children, medicine, community, etc. In SO many ways. This is just another part. How do we change the culture? I can't answer that. I do know I am raising my children to not be the same as the world around us.