The neonatal intensive parenting unit: an introduction

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Abstract

This paper describes a paradigm shift occurring in neonatal intensive care. Care teams are moving from a focus limited to healing the baby's medical problems towards a focus that also requires effective partnerships with families. These partnerships encourage extensive participation of mothers and fathers in their baby's care and ongoing bi-directional communication with the care team. The term Newborn Intensive Parenting Unit (NIPU) was derived to capture this concept. One component of the NIPU is familyintegrated care, where parents are intimately involved in a baby's care for as many hours a day as possible. We describe six areas of potentially better practices (PBPs) for the NIPU along with descriptions of NIPU physical characteristics, operations, and a relationship-based culture. Research indicates the PBPs should lead to improved outcomes for NIPU babies, better mental health outcomes for their parents, and enhanced well-being of staff.

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