Photos capture the power of skin-to-skin contact for NICU mothers and babies
The most memorable part of delivery for most moms is the moment their child is born and they’re able to hold them close for the first time. But for mothers whose children are born prematurely or require immediate medical attention, those moments can be fleeting.
Kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin care has documented benefits, including reduced discomfort and stress, reduced chance of infection, helping infant brain development, and helping moms bond to their babies through physical connection. It is recommended by the March of Dimes and health experts worldwide.
But finding ways to spend quality time is sometimes hard to do in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU), where babies who are premature or critically ill are often fragile and under constant care.
This week, in honor of Mother’s Day, the March of Dimes and Saint Luke’s Hospital teamed up to help make the day extra memorable for NICU moms by providing support and photography sessions to capture their skin-to-skin bonding.
The March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program at Saint Luke’s Hospital supports moms who are on bed rest or at the bedside with premature or critically ill children in the NICU.
Babies born premature (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) can face serious health challenges and are at risk of having lifelong disabilities including breathing problems, vision loss, cerebral palsy, and intellectual delays. In the United States alone, about 380,000 babies are born prematurely every year – that’s one in ten. The premature birth rate in our country is higher than that in most other high-resource nations.
The March of Dimes is supporting cutting-edge research at a nationwide network of five Prematurity Research Centers, where researchers and scientists are collaborating to create major breakthroughs in prematurity.
The March of Dimes and Saint Luke’s worked with photographers – some whose children had previously been in the NICU – to document the bonding sessions. The pictures capture just how the powerful the physical connection between mother and baby can be.
“Mother’s Day – especially a mom’s very first with her new baby – can be hard for many families with children in the NICU,” March of Dimes president Stacey D. Stewart said in a press release provided to Scary Mommy. “Our NICU Family Support program works with Saint Luke’s Hospital and more than 100 other hospitals around the United States to offer the support families need to have the best possible experience when their baby is in the NICU.”
Looking at these photos, it’s clear just how much these moments mean to these new mothers. Congratulations and Happy Mother’s Day to them.