When you’re a new mom you want to hold your baby as much as possible. But, when your baby is in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, that’s not always an option. Now several hospitals are turning to technology — specifically iPads and tablets — to help mothers bond with their babies in the NICU.
At Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, a project dubbed “BabyTime” is allowing mothers to be present with their babies even when the two can’t physically be together. An iPad is placed in the NICU near the baby’s incubator and another is given to the mother in her hospital room. From there, the connection begins.
“We’re able to link two iPads together so the mother can look at her baby and talk to her baby,” says Bevin Merideth, MSN, RNC-NIC, Assistant Nurse Manager of the NICU at Cedars-Sinai.
The mother’s nurse will call the NICU on the iPad and get an update on the baby before handing it over to the mom. This helps to prepare the mother and explain what’s going on so there are no surprises.
During special circumstances, some mothers have also been able to stay connected with their babies when they’ve been discharged, but their babies are still in the NICU. The program even allows siblings to see each other when visitation is limited or they’re not old enough to enter the NICU.
BabyTime has been in place at Cedars-Sinai for about five years. Merideth tells Parentology it has not only helped women bond with their babies but has also provided a nice communication bridge between a mother’s nurse and nurses in the NICU.
“Besides promoting early bonding, mom is better prepared when she does come visit,” says Merideth.
iPad technology is also being used to connect moms and babies at Misericordia Community Hospital in Alberta, Canada, where a customized program allows mothers to see their babies in the NICU. Stationary iPads are placed in the mother’s room and the NICU so that mother and child can see and hear one another. The hospital started using the program in November of 2018 and is already seeing positive results.
“I’ve seen the distress that the mother and baby experience when they’re separated,” Mehaboob Shariff Shaik, MD, facility chief of the Misericordia Community Hospital NICU tells Parentology. He says the iPad program has helped to lessen a mother’s anxiety and allowed her to bond with her baby.
Dr. Shaik explains that since the baby has heard his mother’s voice while in the womb, he recognizes it, and it helps him calm down when he hears it through the iPad. Seeing and hearing the baby not only gives a mother the opportunity to see how her baby is doing, but Shaik says it has also helped mothers produce breast milk.
Following the positive results of these programs, both hospitals are looking for ways to expand these services in the future.
iPads in NICU – Sources
TOP IMAGE: Julius Caceres, RN, left, and Yvonne Kidder, RN, right, helped create the BabyTime program that is allowing new mom Florentina Trujillo to see her newborn baby in the neonatal intensive care unit. (Image: Cedars-Sinai)
Bevin Merideth, MSN, RNC-NIC assistant nurse manager in the Cedars-Sinai NICU, Los Angeles CA
Dr. Mehaboob Shariff Shaik, facility chief of the Misericordia Community Hospital NICU, Alberta, Canada