Bonding with Baby in the NICU: July 23, 2011

Erin Gillespie was hardly prepared for pre-term delivery, but had little choice when her doctor diagnosed her with a dangerous form of preeclampsia.

“The only cure was to deliver the baby so I had an emergency C-section about an hour later.”

And so little Ellie made her appearance 3 months early.

“She was still in the incubator we couldn’t hold her but we could put her hands in there and touch her and talk to her,” says Gillespie.

As it happens, many mothers find themselves going home without their babies. It may take months before the family is living under one roof. But every effort is made to bond the baby from day one.

“People don’t realize how many babies end up having to come to the NICU we have 48 beds,” says Suzi Akhavan-Yazdi, NICU nurse with Lee Memorial Health System.

Suzi is a neonatal intensive care nurse who says touching is the key to bonding.

“We do something in the and NICU called skin to skin where we placed the very small babies against the mother’s chest against the father’s chest and just being up to the parents, skin smelling their skin, the babies can gain weight they can do so much better,” says Akhavan-Yazdi.

Parents are encouraged to spend as much time as possible with their babies and be active in their care. Ellie spent 29 days in the hospital.

“One of the best things they do is really get the parents involved in her care so you know you’re comfortable when you go, you can take care of this really, really, really tiny child,” says Gillespie.

By the time they were united as a family, the Gillespies had already built a solid foundation.