A1 Journal article – refereed
Clinging to closeness: The parental view on developing a close bond with their infants in a NICU

List of Authors: Heli Mäkelä, Anna Axelin, Nancy Feeley, Hannakaisa Niela-Vilén
Publisher: Churchill Livingstone
Publication year: 2018
Journal: Midwifery
Journal name in source: Midwifery
Volume number: 62
eISSN: 1532-3099


Objective: To identify and understand how parents develop a close bond to their infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Design: A qualitative descriptive study; closeness and separation stories recorded in a smartphone application by the parents were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Setting and participants: Twenty-three parents of nineteen infants who were taken care of in a level III NICU in Finland.

Findings: Bonding moments and a disrupted dyadic parent-infant relationship continuously alternated as in a rollercoaster ride during the hospital stay. Transitions from closeness to separation and vice versa were the most emotional stages on the journey. Parents had a natural desire to be close and create a bond with their infants; however, they accepted the separation as part of NICU care.

Key conclusions: The findings indicate that closeness with their infant was the power that parents stored and that led them through unavoidable separation to normal parenthood.

Implications for practice: Bonding and attachment will occur naturally if parents are close to their infants and permitted privacy and time with their infants. NICU staff should create a peaceful and calming environment that enables and supports this bonding process.

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Last updated on 2019-29-01 at 17:47