The neonatal unit at the University Hospital of North Tees has launched a new initiative called Small Wonders which aims to help parents play a much bigger part in the care of their tiny or sick baby.
Small Wonders has been devised by the charity Best Beginnings whose aims are to give every child in the UK the healthiest start in life. Small Wonders aims to support parents to be at the cornerstone of their baby’s care in ways that are shown to improve health outcomes for babies and wellbeing of parents. Strong evidence suggests that increasing parental involvement reduces infection rates, developmental outcomes and improves bonding.
Specialist midwife in infant feeding Diane Hudson said: “When a baby arrives earlier than expected or is sick, parents often feel helpless and coming into a neonatal unit with all its technology can be frightening.
“Best Beginnings have produced a Small Wonders information pack with a DVD and guidebook to tell mothers what to expect and we’ll be giving a copy of the pack to all mothers whose babies are admitted to the neonatal unit. Pregnant women whose baby we anticipate may be admitted to the unit, will also be receiving a copy of the pack so they are well prepared if this should happen.
“There is now a strong body of evidence showing that skin to skin contact is very beneficial for tiny or sick babies. It can regulate their temperature, calm them and, while skin to skin contact with either parent promotes bonding, mums who are providing breastmilk to feed their babies will find their milk supply improve and begin to produce the antibodies the baby needs.
“We now encourage mothers of tiny and sick babies to begin expressing within six hours of the delivery. The first milk is called colostrum, which like breast milk contains antibodies, protection from infection and is designed to meet all the baby’s individual needs. When your baby has arrived early or is sick, providing your own milk is the most important thing a mother can do. Many women really value being able to make a difference to their baby’s health and wellbeing during this difficult time.
“As well as myself as a specialist midwife for infant feeding, we have midwives, nurses and doctors who are champions for Small Wonders. We want babies to get the very best start in life and for parents to play a much bigger part in the care of their little ones at this crucial time because it makes a difference to the health and wellbeing of the whole family.
“We’re here to give encouragement, support and to give parents confidence to care for their babies and we’re excited about the difference that introducing the Small Wonders programme into the unit will make.”
To find out more about Best Beginnings please visit www.bestbeginnings.org.uk.