Maternal stress associated with having a baby in the NICU interferes with initial bonding and attachment; it is also correlated with postpartum depression. Evidence shows that improved parental knowledge of the NICU experience, coupled with an enhanced understanding of the journey ahead, can provide a sense of predictability and confidence to deal with the overall stress of having a premature baby.
Families’ Bridge to Caring Hands, founded in 2013, provides a family-centered care program that is dedicated to the education and empowerment of parents and family members facing the potential hospitalization of an infant in the NICU. Our Ambassador NICU RN program targets antepartum mothers with a 90% probability of delivering an infant who will be admitted into the NICU. The program methodology provides structured staff training, accompanied by parent resources to aid in lowering stress and providing potential parents of infants in the NICU with a clear view of what’s ahead. Our goal is to prepare parents to become engaged members of the NICU care team.
The program provides evidence-based training to perinatal nurses (antepartum, labor and delivery, postpartum, and lactation), with additional training to NICU RNs as Ambassador NICU RNs, to give psychosocial support to family and mother during her bed rest. Education content is derived from research and literature which indicates that lowering the stress levels of potential parents of infants in the NICU results in improved outcomes for both the parents and the infant following delivery. Our program trains designated Ambassador NICU RNs to work with potential parents of NICU infants by providing structured information throughout their stay in the antepartum unit, and continues up to the infant’s NICU admission. This one-on-one support and improved staff-parent communication allows for better parent focus on the infant’s care post-delivery.
In addition to the clinical staff training, Families’ Bridge to Caring Hands provides antepartum mothers with various educational resources utilizing the patient portal on our website (login access required) during their hospital stay. This customized website content can be accessed via computer, tablet or smart phone, and comes preloaded with educational material which correlates with the training provided to the mother by Ambassador NICU RNs and perinatal staff nurses.