Roger Watson, Editor
Having a new born baby in neonatal intensive care must be a very stressful experience for parents. However, the period immediately after taking the baby home, while a considerable relief, must also be stressful. Parents need to be adequately prepared as this study from Sweden by Larsson et al (2016) titled: ‘Parentsexperiences of discharge readiness from a Swedish neonatal intensive care unit’ and published in Nursing Open shows.
The aim of the study was: ‘to describe how parents experienced the support at, and preparation for discharge from, the NICU and how they experienced the first time at home.’ Parents of 93 neonatal infants were approached and given a questionnaire about their experiences. Some were answered by mothers, some by fathers and some by both parents. The results were very positive: ‘When asked if the parents felt adequately prepared for discharge home, 55 (83%) responded “yes,” three (5%) responded “no,” and eleven (17%) answered the question in free text. When asked if they felt they received sufficient support from the NICU for the first few days at home, 49 (74%) responded “yes,” no parent answered “no,”’. Nevertheless, some parents did express worries: ‘The first few days at home were a little bit scary without the NICU staff near as we were used to. We checked frequently that he was breathing!’ and ‘I don’t think you can really be sufficiently prepared; it’s something so totally new in your life, so you will never be prepared enough.’
The authors concluded: ‘Factors favouring the parents’ sense of being prepared for going home and affecting their experience of the first period at home were being present during, and involved in, the infant’s care at theNICU; the infant’s being medically examined and declared healthy;the parents getting sufficient medical and practical information; and the transition to home occurring gradually. At discharge, several parents wished they had had more information about breastfeeding, tube feeding, and the infants’ food intake; they also would have liked emotional support and follow-up counselling after discharge.’
Larsson C, Wägström U, Normann E, Thernstrom Blömqvist Y (2016) Parents experiences of discharge readinessfrom a Swedish neonatal intensive care unit Nursing Open DOI: 10.1002/nop2.71