Family time helps tiny babies thrive

A woman holds a small newborn baby while two young children and a man sit beside her.
Samantha Parke and husband Damien with their newborn son and his sisters Alexandra and Eleanor in FSH’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
February 13, 2020

A change to allow siblings of premature babies to visit the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) is providing important bonding time for families.

The NICU team made the change after researching the health and wellbeing improvements sibling visits had made worldwide.

FSH Consultant Neonatologist Shail Mehta said the experience helped with family bonding and had a demonstrated benefit for the babies’ health.

“It’s clear that sibling visits bring multiple benefits for the babies and other family members,” Associate Professor Mehta said.

“There have been measurable positive impacts, including improved feeding and weight gain, and earlier discharge.”

Associate Professor Mehta said it also made it easier for parents during what could be a stressful time for the whole family, and helped siblings understand what was happening.

“We’ve had excellent feedback from parents,” he said.

“It’s often hard to arrange care for siblings and the change means it’s easier for families to spend time together with the babies.”

The Parke family of Brentwood were surprised by early arrival of their twins and didn’t have child care arrangements in place for their young daughters, Alexandra (5) and Eleanor (2).

“We are very grateful to have this special time with the babies and to have the girls with us,” mother Samantha said.

“I’d like to thank everyone at the hospital who worked to make this happen.”

The NICU family room has been set up with a cosy sofa, bookshelf, rug, kids table, toys, colouring-in gear and a much-used and appreciated coffee machine, thanks to donations coordinated by a grateful mother.

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