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Balancing preterm infants’ developmental needs with parents’ readiness for skin-to-skin care: A phenomenological study

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Author(s): INGJERD Gåre Kymre | TERESE Bondas

Journal: International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health & Well-Being
ISSN 1748-2623

Volume: 8;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Reflective lifeworld research | NICU nurses | Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) | Kangaroo Care (KC) | proximity | skin-to-skin care (SSC) | touch

ABSTRACT
The aim of this article is to articulate the essence and constituents of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses’ experiences in enacting skin-to-skin care (SSC) for preterm newborns and their parents. SSC is commonly employed in high-tech NICUs, which entails a movement from maternal–infant separation. Parents’ opportunities for performing the practice have been addressed to NICU staff, with attitude and environment having crucial influence. The study was carried out with a reflective lifeworld research approach. Data were collected in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway by open-dialogue interviews with a purposive sample of 18 NICU nurses to achieve the essence of and variation within the phenomenon. NICU nurses experience balancing what they consider preterm newborns’ current and developmental needs, with readiness in both parents for SSC. They share an experience of a change in the history of NICU care to increased focus on the meaning of proximity and touch for the infants’ development. The phenomenon of enacting SSC is characterized by a double focus with steady attention to signals from both parents and newborns. Thereby, a challenge emerges from the threshold of getting started as the catalyst to SSC.
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