We know that full term babies benefit immensely from being close to their mother. But what about the littlest babies, the premature and/or ill babies who are so vulnerable?
We are very lucky in NZ to have a world class Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Auckland working around the clock to save and care for our tiniest babies, in addition to the SCBU units in hospitals around the country. Parents are encouraged to spend as much time as they can with their wee ones, and kangaroo care is facilitated as often as possible where indicated by the baby's health/monitoring.
To commemorate 'International Babywearing Week' in late 2009 we decided these littlest of sling-babies were a very worthy cause. Already passionate about the benefits of babywearing, we knew from recent international research that Kangaroo Care is a hugely beneficial factor for premature babies. The carrier we offered had to be washable, soft, supportive, able to go around any CPAP/lines, and easy enough to have made in large numbers. Wrap slings were decided on as the most suitable for this purpose. They would be able to keep baby very supported with the least amount of stimulation and movement possible, as required for preemies.
So we held online auctions and raffles, and organised a big Sling-Expo. Many NZ online baby sling/product vendors supported us with donations of items for the auctions, publicity and running stalls on the day. With the profits we were able to have 100 wrap slings made especially for NICU- 100% cotton, beautifully soft, clean and ready to wrap!
In mid 2010 they were finally ready. We were graciously welcomed into the NICU rooms and were able to help half a dozen keen mothers to wrap their beautiful *BEAUTIFUL* babies for kangaroo cuddles. The staff were willing to have a go too, which is fantastic as they will be showing the next groups of mothers how to wrap. The families will be able to keep their wraps when they leave, in order to ease the transition to home life.
We are so honoured to have been able to offer our help in this way, in support of the mother/baby dyad in a premature-baby setting. It was humbling to see the care and dedication of the staff and mothers. NICU babies and mums have a big journey ahead, and now they have an amazing 'tool' to compliment their state of the art medical care.
Here are some photos of the lovely mothers and babies having a go with their new wraps. And a staff nurse getting in on the action!
Click on a thumbnail to make it the main photo.... (All photos used with permission, please respect this and DO NOT copy)