An exciting new approach to neonatal care
Hey Dads, think back to your experience in the hospital when your (most recent) child was born (if your child was born in the hospital, that is). Maybe, like me, you were given a few cushions to bunch together and put on the floor to try and catch a few hours of sleep. Maybe you had other children to attend to so you and the elder children went home while mom and the new one stayed in the hospital. Your partner might not even have had a private room, so visiting wasn't very intimate let alone spending any amount of time outside of visiting hours. Whatever the circumstances, I'm probably safe in assuming that the room was purely functional. Utilitarian at best.
This is why this news out of Halifax about the country's first family neonatal care unit is so heartwarming to me. Having a child which needs special care in their first hours and days is a very trying time for even the hardiest of families. I can't imagine the level of overall care is ever as good as it could be when we the facilities are as utilitarian as we've come to expect. In this unit, by contrast, the bed is designed to accommodate a couple, rather than just a single person. There is space for siblings, if need be. The unit is more private than a traditional unit without sacrificing the ability of the staff to care for the baby.
The data is apparently proving the value in delivering neo-natal care in this way. Babies born into this unit are starting to thrive out of the womb faster (e.g. regulating their body temperature better, gaining weight faster, etc). A large study of babies born into family-integrated neonatal care units also seem to develop language and other development skills sooner than the standard model. As with other recent pushes into the hidden frontiers of health care, treating people better seems key in treating people better.
As dads, I hope this is as exciting to all of you as it is to me. We know that we can't physically deliver our babies, but we can do amazing things things if we take a more integrated approach, and this unit goes a long way to acknowledging that and working to expand the opportunities for dads to help out when they can. Starting families off together - especially families which have been dealt a tough hand - could go a long way to improving outcomes for everyone. If we carry that mentality onwards as we raise our kids, surely the same thing will apply outside of the hospital as well.
-Colin McCann, Managing Director