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Oxford Children's Hospital

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Parental involvement in the Oxford Newborn Care Unit

Having a baby on the Oxford Newborn Care Unit can be overwhelming at first, but the first few days are the most important in the bonding process with your new baby. We will support and encourage you to bond and interact with your new baby.

Bonding with any new baby is a vital process, even more so when your baby is receiving intensive or any medical care. Bonding can be especially difficult when dealing with the emotions surrounding your baby's admission to the unit.

Initially you may want to just sit and watch your baby until you feel more comfortable with the environment, monitoring and size of your new baby. While you are sitting with your baby you can quietly sing or read to him or her. Even the most premature babies will begin to recognise your voice.

New bornOnce you feel more at ease you may want to touch your baby's hands or feet and gently place a hand on his/her head. Try to keep your hand still to avoid over-stimulation; a firm but gentle touch will reassure and comfort your baby. As you get to know your baby, you will recognise when he/she is unsettled, and what kind of touch helps to settle and calm.

During your baby's stay he/she may have to undergo many procedures. Unfortunately, some of these procedures may cause discomfort and you can play a vital and unique part in comforting your baby during this time. Speak to the nurse caring for your baby and ask how you can help.

New bornOnce your baby is medically stable you will be able to hold him/her in your arms. The nurse looking after your baby will tell you when your baby is ready for cuddles and skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care), and will help to get your baby out of the incubator when the time comes.

The first time you hold your baby may not be as enjoyable as you hope, as you may find it difficult to relax. The nurses will support you, and each time you will feel more relaxed. Read a story or talk to your baby at this time as he/she will recognise your voice as well as familiarising him/herself with your smell. Your baby will be more stable, be able to regulate his/her temperature better and will settle more quickly in this way.

Within a short space of time you will know your baby much better than many of the doctors and nurses. You will be able to recognise and understand your baby's body language and personal, unique, signals. You may be the first to recognise if he/she is uncomfortable, settled, happy or becoming unwell, making you the perfect advocate and protector of your baby.

Please let us know if you are worried about your baby.