Did you know mothers want to be present for their infant’s painful procedure?

In a 2020 article published by the Journal of Neonatal Nursing, Hassankhani et al examined the effects of maternal presence and nursing bias during a painful procedures in Iran.  Due to cultural differences, only mothers were permitted to participate in care.  15 nurses and 18 mothers in a 24 bed level II NICU were observed during 70 painful procedures.  Researchers examined the nursing criteria for allowing the mother to remain at the bedside, the mother’s trust of the nurse, and the positive and negative impacts of the mother at the bedside.

Results included the following:

  1. Some nurses prevented the mother from remaining at the bedside if the mother was too anxious or emotional fearing that the mother would interfere with the procedure.
  2. Some mothers chose to leave the bedside if they trusted the nurse
  3. Some mothers chose to stay if she felt that she could calm her infant.

Although other studies have shown it is the nurse’s duty to empower the parents to participate in care, cultural limitations may have impacted this study.  Nevertheless, the majority of mothers in this study chose to stay at the bedside and be present to calm and pacify their baby, relieve the baby’s stress, and be fully involved in all aspects of care.  Ultimately, researchers recommends parents use touch and their voice to support their infant through any care.

We as health care workers have a role to play in empowering parents to participate in every aspect of their baby’s care with respect, dignity, and information sharing.  While this particular unit may have some strides to make towards family-centered care, most units can also make improvements.  What is family-centered care like in your unit?  Do you witness biases related to family involvement?  Do you want to drive cultural change?  Do you feel there’s a better way, but need help in reaching your goals?  We can help!  Learn more here.

Hassankhani, H. et al. (2020). The role of mother during painful procedures on neonates: A focused ethnography. Journal of Neonatal Nursing. doi. Org/10.1016/j.jnn.2020.03.002.