Dr. Melnyk shares advice for women who feel unprepared to care for a premature child.
First of all I think it is really important to get involved with the care of the premature baby right from the start. So many times these parents of premature babies, when they are in the neonatal intensive care unit and they are surrounded by all of the technology in the unit they don’t feel comfortable with getting involved in that baby’s care.
So I would say first off it’s important to begin to get involved with the baby’s care, to ask the staff who are caring for the baby, what are some of the things that I can do to help my baby and to take care of my baby while I am in the neonatal intensive care unit?
It’s also really important that parents realize that they have a very special little baby in front of them. So many times when babies are born prematurely parents are thinking about all of the negative outcomes of premature birth. What, will my baby have developed mental disabilities? Will they not be able to grow and develop normally?
And even though babies are born prematurely and some, much more than others, I want to reassure parents that most of these babies catch up and do absolutely beautiful as they grow.
About Dr. Melnyk, Ph.D., R.N.:
Dr. Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, Ph.D., R.N., is Dean and Distinguished Foundation Professor in Nursing at the Arizona State University College of Nursing & Health Innovation. She is noted for her dedication to improving the health of children and teens, educational and research innovation, interdisciplinary healthcare, and evidence-based practice to deliver quality patient outcomes.
Dr. Melnyk earned a Bachelor of Nursing Science degree from the West Virginia University School of Nursing, a Master’s of Science in nursing with a specialization in nursing care of children as a pediatric nurse practitioner from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Ph.D. in clinical nursing research from the University of Rochester (New York). She also has completed her post-master’s certificate as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.