The role of Occupational Therapists to promote preterm infant-parent attachment, within the neonatal environment
(2015) The role of Occupational Therapists to promote preterm infant-parent attachment, within the neonatal environment, no. 99.
Preterm infants are considered those born before 37 weeks often requiring admission to a specialised neonatal unit to receive care within a medical environment which can be intimidating for parents. Premature birth means an increased chance of immature development making it difficult for infants to cope with noise, lighting and interaction with parents. Opportunities for parents to touch and hold their infant is influenced by the level of care and equipment required, some parents may only be able to lightly touch their infant. Parents of preterm infants face an uncertain traumatic experience causing emotional stress whilst visiting an unfamiliar environment in which professionals may appear to be the main carers. Initiating and developing a parental relationship involves touching, holding and providing all care needed which together gives the infant feelings of security and love. However, the combination of preterm infants' immaturity and the neonatal unit can mean infantparent relationships can feel more difficult to develop and parents can find it hard to understand what best to do for their infant. Literature suggests developing a supportive infant-parent relationship at an early stage can continue through to childhood and positively influence development. Occupational Therapy can assist parents within the neonatal environment to understand some of the difficulties and encourage positive interactions through the use of parenting care activities. The Neonatal Occupational Therapy Edinburgh Service (NOTES) will work with parents and the infants during activities to develop understanding of infant movements and facial expressions to try and understand what they need or what they are finding difficult. NOTES will also encourage parents to share stories and experiences to provide support within the neonatal unit.