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Table 3 Closeness and Separation Events Identified by NICU Nurses

From: Parents and nurses balancing parent-infant closeness and separation: a qualitative study of NICU nurses’ perceptions

Closeness events Examples
Attentive presence at infant’s bedside Being present and engaged with the infant including admiring and observing
Physical contact Touching, hand holding or cuddling the infant while in cot or incubator, holding in parent’s arms and skin to skin contact
Events that result in increased physical proximity between infant and parent Transfer of the infant to the ward where the mother was hospitalized or to an NICU closer to home, infant home on day pass or discharge home
Parent-infant interaction Eye contact, talking, singing, reading, story-telling, and reacting to the infant’s cues
Typical infant caregiving and NICU care Diapering, bathing, taking temperature, comforting a distressed infant during normative (i.e., a bath) or non-normative events (i.e., heel stick or I.V. line insertion), and feeding or participation in providing nutrition to the infant (e.g.: pumping breast milk, bottle, breast or gavage feeding)
Exchange of information between parents and NICU staff Information about infant’s condition, care, or behavior while parents present in the unit or elsewhere (i.e., home)
Being together “as a family” with the infant Intimate moments where family members were assembled together and visibly enjoying the experience and one another (whether mother and/or father were present, with or without siblings)
Separation events Examples
Not physically present and no other form of contact with the infant or staff Parents do not visit the unit or call to ask about the infant’s condition
Physically present but not engaged with infant Parents talking together at the bedside without interest in or involvement with the infant
Departures from the bedside Leaving to eat or sleep or care for siblings, going home or to maternity ward for the mother’s own care
Transitions from physical contact Need to return the infant to the incubator or end skin to skin contact for any number of reasons including procedures or monitor alarm
Declining the nurse’s offer to have physical contact with the infant or provide care Despite encouragement, the parent could not engage with infant due to own stress or discomfort