South West Wales

Parents share care of premature babies at Singleton

Jordan, Ellia and Harry Williams Image copyright ABMU
Image caption Parents Ellia and Jordan Williams with their baby Harry

A Swansea hospital is the first in Wales to offer parents the chance to be involved in the care of premature babies.

Singleton's neonatal intensive care unit encourages mums and dads to learn how to tube feed their babies, take their temperature and give medication.

The initiative was introduced by Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board in November 2016.

The health board said "it is proving a big hit with parents".

Among the first families to take part were Ellia and Jordan Williams of Clydach, Swansea whose son Harry was born nine weeks early, weighing 3lb 10oz.

'Helpless'

"When Harry was first on the unit I hated the thought of leaving him and someone else looking after him when I went home every day," said Mrs Williams.

"I felt helpless, like I wasn't doing enough for him."

She and Mr Williams were encouraged to help with Harry's daily care during his five weeks at Singleton, including having regular skin-to-skin sessions.

"I was so glad Family Integrated Care [FiCare] was encouraged and the nurses were there to help us," added Mrs Williams.

"We both felt included, it helped us bond with Harry and we really feel it has made it easier now we have him home with us."

Image copyright ABMU
Image caption Members of ABMU’s Family Integrated Care Team at Singleton neonatal intensive care unit

FiCare lead nurse Sarah Davies said the idea was to help develop a partnership between parents and neonatal staff.

"There is no pressure on parents to do anything they are uncomfortable with," she said.

"We want parents to become more confident in looking after their babies."

So far the FiCare has been shown to improve breast feeding rates, reduce parental stress, reduce infection rates and reduce the length of stay for babies.

"When families are involved in decision making - even about simple things like when they can take their baby out of a cot - it makes them feel included and more responsible for their baby's care," added Ms Davies.

The Singleton team is now looking to extend the initiative and training is under way in the special care baby unit at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.

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