A recent study shows that babies who had blood drawn at the hospital (via heel-stick procedure) felt soothed when held by their mother or father, compared to being alone in the incubator. Heel-stick procedure involves pricking a baby’s feet in order to obtain a small amount of blood for testing.
The difference between the relief brought about by the mother and father, though, were not far apart. Either of them essentially helped the baby deal with the heel-prick better.
Premature babies, in particular, are especially weaker compared to full-term babies, but a method known as “Kangaroo Care” has been proven to promote health benefits such as more regulated heartbeat, breathing, temperature and pain management. In Kangaroo Care, an infant, wearing only a diaper, is held against the bare chest or skin of the parent, with a cloth or towel wrapped around both parent and baby.
Says Dr. Larry Gray, pediatrician at Corner Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago, “There is a big difference between when a baby gets (blood drawn) alone in an incubator and when the mom or dad holds the baby for this procedure.” Preemies who experienced kangaroo care have been discovered to have a more rapid growth and development than full-term babies.
In a study involving 62 participant premature infants from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) requiring several heel-stick procedures, the mothers and fathers would take turns doing the kangaroo care method. In order to measure or identify signs of pain from the babies during the blood extractions, the researchers looked at their facial expressions that signify discomfort, such as wrinkled noses, lips and squeezed eyes, all while using a 0 to 21 pain rating scale.