Exploring the Relationship Between Mother and Baby in the Nicu in Relation to Nursing Support.

Topics: Qualitative research, Intensive care medicine, Neonatal intensive care unit Pages: 20 (6099 words) Published: February 15, 2013
Exploring the relationship between mother and baby in the NICU in relation to nursing support.


Aim -To explore the effect of interaction related to care-giving and information exchange between nurses and mothers in relation to maternal stress and maternal-infant relationship in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) throughout the hospital stay.

Background - Mothers in the NICU experience depression, anxiety, stress, and loss of control, and they fluctuate between feelings of inclusion and exclusion related to the provision of health care to their neonate. This literature review helps to identify nursing interventions that promote positive outcomes between mother and baby by reducing maternal feelings of stress and anxiety.

Search Method - A literature search covering the period 2008-2012 was conducted. Five articles reporting both quantitative and qualitative studies relative to the subject were retrieved.

Findings - Findings reveal that positive and trustful relationships between nurses and mothers develop when nurses communicate and interact with mothers. This alleviated mother’s anxiety and enhanced their confidence when interacting with their baby.

Discussion - Critical analysis as well as strengths and weaknesses of the relative journals reviewed is given together with useful recommendations that emerge from the evidence.

Conclusion - The literature reviewed shows that nurse-mother interaction improves mother-infant relationship. In turn, this will eventually assist in decreasing maternal stress and improve the maternal well-being.


Mothers develop attachment to their baby during pregnancy, which continues and develops more fully after the child is born (Cleveland 2009). However, the pathway to becoming a mother is threatened with the admission of the baby to the NICU. This occurs due to the unfamiliar and intimidating environment of the NICU (Obeidat et al 2009). During the initial admission parents can believe that the healthcare team is more able to care for their baby and this can instill feelings of inadequacy (Cockfort 2011). As a result, maternal attachment may be delayed by the lack of socialisation between mother and baby as most of the care is done by nurses (Cleveland 2009).

DeRouck and Leys (2009), found that the parents of an infant admitted to the NICU face challenges including access to information, disclosure about the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of their newborn, as well as a lack of control over the care of their newborn.

Adding to this distress is the uncertainty of survival or the eventual impact of the infant’s condition on later health and well-being. In addition, feeling guilty to mother an unhealthy infant creates fear of social prejudice. Further, the structure of the NICU places significant barriers on mothers’ abilities to enact the parental role since decision-making and the daily care of the infant is taken over by medical and nursing staff restricting interactions with the babies stripping off their maternal authority (Cleveland 2009). In fact, when babies are in the NICU, traditional conceptualizations of the parental role are altered. The situation demands heightened parental participation while simultaneously placing severe restrictions on parental involvement. In response, parents need to negotiate this tension and traditional definitions of the parental role, which must be continually redefined throughout their experience

What emerges is that the predominant source of distress is inability of the mother to protect the infant from pain and provide appropriate pain management. (Fenwick et al 2008). A lot of procedures cause pain in the neonate creating concerns for the mother, starting from peripheral cannulas, indwelling catheters and intubation to mention a few. In intubated babies, even though morphine infusions are administered, the baby still shows signs of distress during nursing times. In this case, we...
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