Everyday Tech Gadgets Help Moms and NICU Babies Bond
Think tablet computers are just for playing Angry Birds? At a major hospital in Los Angeles, a new program is tapping into the ease and portability of the iPad® to give moms a better way to bond with their newborns should medical reasons keep them apart following birth.
Called “BabyTime,” the iPad program at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in LA is designed for moms of newborns spending time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), who themselves are recovering from a cesarean section and can’t easily get out of bed to visit their babies.
Typically, moms in this situation have relied on secondhand information from their partners and hospital staff to fill them in on how their babies are doing. Now, as soon as a newborn is admitted to the NICU, an iPad is set up next to the infant’s incubator, with another one stationed in mom’s room. Twice a day, moms can check in on their newborns using a video conferencing app. On the other end, babies have the opportunity to hear their mothers’ voices, which can help with bonding. Moms are also free to ask the NICU staff questions and listen in on exams.
The inspiration for this program? The hospital notes that upwards of 20 to 30 percent of new mothers who undergo C-sections, and whose babies require stays in the NICU, do not feel well enough to leave their bed for the first 24 to 48 hours following birth.
“[BabyTime] is an excellent use of technology to help new mothers bond with their babies, even when they cannot be physically at their babies’ bedside. When doctors and nurses are treating a newborn in the NICU, mom can be right there asking questions and getting updates, even if she’s on a different floor,” explains Charles F. Simmons Jr., MD, chair of the Cedars-Sinai Department of Pediatrics and Ruth and Harry Roman Chair in Neonatology, in a hospital press release.
Proving the benefits of BabyTime is Rachel Little, one of the first mothers to take part in the program. After her daughter was born in mid-February by C-section, Little was unable to make her way to the NICU where her infant was being treated. Little was eager to see her baby and hear about her condition.
According to Little, “Even though I couldn’t hold her, she stopped crying when she heard me talk to her [via the iPad]…while it’s not the same as being able to hold your baby, it was almost as good.”
Sound good to you? It does to Jill Mackey, a mom from Alabama who recently brought home her twins after a six-week stay in the NICU.
“I am having one of those, ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ moments right now. I could even see this working when parents are at home and the NICU is a really long drive [away], like it was for us,” she relays.
Mackey also says that she will gladly lend out her tablet computer if it can somehow help fellow NICU parents feel more bonded with their babies.
“I hope our NICU days are behind us, but if I, or another mom I know finds herself in this same boat, I would be more than happy to put this gadget to good use.”
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