Next Wednesday is Kangaroo Care Awareness Day, Let's Get Cuddling!


08 May 2019
      

Next Wednesday is Kangaroo Care Awareness Day, Let's Get Cuddling!

Kangaroo Care Awareness Day is an annual event which takes place on 15th May, to highlight the importance and benefits of touch for babies and their parents. Kangaroo Care, a process also known as skin-to-skin, is where babies are held by their parents across their bare chest, so that the skin is touching. This contact is vital for babies’ development, Unicef describe it’s importance here:

"It helps the baby to adjust to life outside the womb and is highly important for supporting mothers to initiate breastfeeding and to develop a close, loving relationship with their baby."

Kangaroo care can be especially beneficial for families with a baby who has been born prematurely or is poorly and receiving care in the neonatal unit, where they can be monitored and given specialist care where appropriate. Neonatal teams work hard to ensure that parents can engage in skin-to-skin as soon as possible after birth, as this simple act can have a big impact on both baby and parents during this stressful time. Here are just some of the reasons why kangaroo care is so important:

1. Helps to promote bonding
When a baby is being cared for by medical staff, parents can sometimes feel as though they cannot contribute to their babies' care, but engaging in skin-to-skin contact can help to remind and reassure them just how important they are to their baby. The act of holding their baby is comforting and gives mums and dads the opportunity to get to know their baby and to talk, read, or sing to their child as they would do if they were at home, thereby creating a sense of normalcy in an environment that is anything but normal.

The stresses of a neonatal stay can take their toll emotionally on mum and dad, Julia Petty wrote about the positive effect kangaroo care can have on the bonding process between a mother and child - we’ll get to dad a little later on:

"Skin-to-skin contact between the baby and the body or chest of the parent stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin. This plays a crucial role in a mother’s bonding behaviour, in turn positively affecting her mood and interactions with the baby."

2. Aids babies' brain development
Of the five senses, touch is one of the first to develop and it is how a baby first learns about the world. Dr. Nathalie Maitre of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, the author of a study which examined the effects of touch and babies’ brain development, said that:

"Our findings add to our understanding that more exposure to these types of supportive touch (skin-to-skin contact) can actually impact how the brain processes touch, a sense necessary for learning and social-emotional connections."

This contact also helps babies in the unit to develop better sleeping habits and good quality sleep is important for their growth and development. Some NICUs even recruit volunteer baby cuddlers to help ensure this supportive touch is maintained even when parents cannot be in the unit.

3. It can help to reduce pain
Premature or poorly babies in the neonatal unit can sometimes undergo a number of tests, treatments and/or operations, so finding something to help minimise the pain experienced by these fragile infants is a priority. A Cochrane review, a study that looked at the effects of skin-to-skin contact, found that:

"Kangaroo care appears to reduce the pain response to, and recovery from, these frequent procedures, although few studies could be combined to provide strong evidence. As far as it has been reported, skin‐to‐skin care is safe. Although it appears that skin‐to‐skin care is effective, the size of the benefit remains uncertain."

A recent study has found that there is another form of touch, that parents can use when holding their baby, which has been proven to have an effect on helping to reduce pain, the study found that:

"Gently stroking a baby reduces activity in their brain associated with painful experiences."

4. Assists the transition to breastfeeding
When babies are cared for in the neonatal unit they are often fed their mother’s milk (or donor milk) via a feeding tube before they later move on to the breast or bottle. Gillian Bowker, Neonatal Infant Feeding Adviser for the NHS Glasgow and Greater Clyde, recorded a series of videos for us in support of World Breastfeeding Week last August and in one of these videos, she spoke about the process of transitioning to breastfeeding, and how skin-to-skin contact could help. Gillian said:

"One of the best things that you can do for your baby is nurse your baby in lots of skin contact as you do, for as many hours a day as you’re able to have your baby in skin contact. It allows him to practice, it allows him to smell that smell that’s familiar because he’s near to your breast, he can smell your breastmilk and it gives him something to focus on…"

5. It's an important role for Dad
Dads can sometimes feel neglected in the days following a new arrival, with the focus being on a poorly baby and sometimes a poorly mum, they can feel as though they don’t have a role to play. With baby in the hospital, dad can feel even more unsure of his role and kangaroo care is a wonderful way for dad to play his part and have some precious one-to-one time with his new baby.

A study has also highlighted how vital it is for dads to practice kangaroo care in those early days and how it has benefits later down the line. The study focused on how dads' biology around the birth of their children relates to their parenting later on, finding that:

"Dads whose cortisol levels were elevated while they held their newborns on the day of their birth - either skin-to-skin or clothed - were more likely to be involved with indirect care and play with their infants in the first months of their lives ... studies like this give us an understanding of the value of having the dad present at birth and engaging with the baby."

While we're sharing the love for dads and those early days with their babies, take a look at these photos of dads’ first moments with their newborns, where many are practicing kangaroo care.

The Kangaroo Care Challenge
So there you have it, these are just some of the reasons why skin-to-skin is so beneficial. NICU teams know this and many are busy this very moment helping to support parents to engage in skin-to-skin contact for as long as possible as part of the Sunnybrook Kangaroo Care Challenge. The challenge, which runs from May 1 to May 15, involves units working to raise awareness of the importance of kangaroo care, by competing (in the friendliest of ways!) to ensure as many babies as possible have as much cuddle time as possible.

Last year’s Kangaroo-a-thon winners in the Level 2 NICU category were Exeter NNU, with 5 hours of baby holding per baby each day … who will win this year? Learn more here.



Emma and David Nominate Sam as their NICU Superhero


26 April 2019
      

Emma and David Nominate Sam as their NICU Superhero

Our NICU Superhero award recognises the hard work and dedication of those caring for the most vulnerable of us, poorly or premature babies in neonatal units across the UK. All nominations received are from the parents of these babies, having experienced first hand just how incredible neonatal staff are. Today’s nomination for our award comes from Arlo’s mum and dad, Emma and David. They have nominated Neonatal Nurse Sam Lang from the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, here Emma tells us what makes Sam so special:

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Treasured MemoRory’s Launch New Campaign for Romeo’s Room


19 April 2019
      

Treasured MemoRory’s Launch New Campaign for Romeo’s Room

This year, Stephanie from Treasured MemoRory's, one of vCreate's generous sponsors, has launched a new fundraising appeal to support families. Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity are funding the renovation of a number of bereavement rooms for families at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, and Stephanie and her partner Scott would like to support this campaign.

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We've Created some Eggstra Special Easter Video Effects


19 April 2019
      

We've Created some Eggstra Special Easter Video Effects

The Easter weekend has arrived and so have our eggstra special Easter video effects!Neonatal and paediatric units will be busy making memories for families this weekend, and we want to help. NICU and PICU staff using vCreate to send video updates of children in the hospital, to their families at home, can now add one of three Easter themed effects. The videos can serve as a keepsake for both parents and children, and remind them of their time spent in the unit. In many cases, this will be baby's first Easter so all the more reason to capture a special moment.
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Video Updates Helping to Reduce Separation Anxiety in Parents


15 April 2019
      

Video Updates Helping to Reduce Separation Anxiety in Parents

Today marks the launch of the UK’s first ever Neonatal Mental Health Awareness Week, a week dedicated to highlighting the importance of support for the mental health and wellbeing of parents and staff in neonatal intensive care units. When babies are born prematurely or with health complications, they can spend days, weeks and sometimes months in the hospital receiving specialist care, and this can have a lasting impact on parents and families.

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Emma's Mum and Dad Nominate Clare as their NICU Superhero


12 April 2019
      

Emma's Mum and Dad Nominate Clare as their NICU Superhero

Baby Emma was born last month and received specialist care in the neonatal unit at Milton Keynes University Hospital, it was here that Emma's parents Sue and Ben, met neonatal nurse Clare Leotta. Following the care the family received during Emma's time on the unit, Sue and Ben have chosen to nominate Clare for our NICU Superhero award, an award which recognises excellence in neonatal care, thanks to feedback shared by families following their NICU experience.

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University Hospital of Wales are the First to Launch vCreate in Wales


11 April 2019
      

University Hospital of Wales are the First to Launch vCreate in Wales

Parents with babies on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the University Hospital of Wales are now able to keep in touch with their little ones when they are away from their baby’s bedside thanks to vCreate secure video messaging, which has recently been implemented on the unit. vCreate is a secure video messaging service that lets unit staff record and send secure video updates to parents when they’re unable to be by their child’s side, minimising the separation anxiety felt by parents.

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Neonatal Mental Health Awareness Week Launches on Monday


10 April 2019
      

Neonatal Mental Health Awareness Week Launches on Monday

On Monday, the UK’s first ever Neonatal Mental Health Awareness Week will launch, and neonatal units, charities and supporting organisations across the UK are gearing up for a busy week raising awareness and highlighting the need for improved mental health support for parents, families and staff in neonatal units.

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Natalie from the Walnut Ward is Emma's NICU Superhero


05 April 2019
      

Natalie from the Walnut Ward is Emma's NICU Superhero

Following the success of our year long campaign to celebrate the work of those wonderful people caring for premature and poorly babies in neonatal units, we are thrilled to enter a second year of our NICU Superhero award! The award allows parents to share their story, and their thanks for those members of the neonatal team who cared for their baby.

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170+ Video Messages Sent from Hospitals to Mums on Mother's Day


01 April 2019
      

170+ Video Messages Sent from Hospitals to Mums on Mother's Day

Yesterday, to help mark Mother’s Day, Neonatal and Paediatric units across the UK sent over 170 video messages to mums whose babies and children couldn't be at home with their families. A reassuring video or photo sent from the hospital team can mean a lot to parents and siblings at times when they are unable to be together, and key dates throughout the year, such as Mother’s Day, can be especially difficult when families are separated.

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Our Special Mother’s Day Video Effects are Now Live


29 March 2019
      

Our Special Mother’s Day Video Effects are Now Live

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and to help neonatal and paediatric units using vCreate mark the occasion, we have added two new effects to help make video updates from the unit extra special on this important day. Staff will simply record their videos as normal and then select one of the two new options when they come to edit the clip. A personal greeting can also be added, which can be tailored to each family, so that mum or baby's name can be included in the message.

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Neonatal Unit at Leeds Children’s Hospital Launch Secure Video Diary


26 March 2019
      

Neonatal Unit at Leeds Children’s Hospital Launch Secure Video Diary

On Monday 25th March, Leeds Teaching Hospitals became the first Trust in England to use vCreate's Secure Video Diary across two hospital sites, with the launch of the service on the neonatal unit of the Leeds Children’s Hospital, one of the largest children's hospitals in the country. In October 2017, St James’s University Hospital launched the system, which allows members of the neonatal team to record video updates of babies receiving care in the unit, and send them to their parents when they are apart.

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Share your experience of vCreate's Secure Video Diary


16 March 2019
      

Share your experience of vCreate's Secure Video Diary

With the first ever Neonatal Mental Health Awareness Week taking place next month between 15-21 April, we would like to explore how vCreate’s Secure Video Diary is helping mums and dads of premature and sick babies, who are receiving specialist care in the neonatal unit.Already an incredibly stressful time for parents, separation anxiety can only add to the already heavy strain on a person's mental wellbeing.

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Congratulations to our NICU Superhero of the Year, Emma Cross!


11 March 2019
      

Congratulations to our NICU Superhero of the Year, Emma Cross!

We have crowned our NICU Superhero of the Year, congratulations to Emma Cross from the neonatal unit at King's Mill Hospital! We put all the names of our 31 nominated NICU Superheroes together, and Emma's name was chosen in a live draw which took place on our Facebook page earlier on today, you can watch the read more »




One Final Nomination for our NICU Superhero Award


08 March 2019
      

One Final Nomination for our NICU Superhero Award

On Monday we will be crowning one NICU Superhero of the Year, but before we do, we have one final parent nomination to share with you. Jade O’Neill got in touch as she wanted to express her thanks to someone who helped her through, what must surely be, one of the most painful of experiences a person can go through.

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Who Will be Crowned NICU Superhero of the Year?


04 March 2019
      

Who Will be Crowned NICU Superhero of the Year?

The time has come ... on Monday 11th March at 1pm, we will be selecting one name from all those nominated NICU Superheroes, to become your NICU Superhero of the Year! We launched our campaign to find the nation's NICU Superheroes back in March 2018, and since then have received a whopping 31 nominations from parents across the UK.

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Join the 'Celebration of Reading' on World Book Day


28 February 2019
      

Join the 'Celebration of Reading' on World Book Day

Thursday 7th March is World Book Day, a “celebration of authors, illustrators, books and a celebration of reading.” We will be joining the celebrations by launching a competition over on our Facebook page, where we have a selection of 18 beautiful books up for grabs. Enter to win them for your little ones, or to donate to your local NICU or PICU library, so that other families may enjoy the comfort and sense of normalcy that reading can bring, especially during difficult times.
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Lucy Nominates Gayner from the LGI as her NICU Superhero


22 February 2019
      

Lucy Nominates Gayner from the LGI as her NICU Superhero

Today’s nomination for our NICU Superhero award was sent in by Sebastian’s mum, Lucy Vickerman. Sebastian was born prematurely at 25 weeks and 3 days gestation, weighing just 1 lb 7 oz. He spent the first 8 weeks of his life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Leeds General Infirmary, and was later transferred to his local hospital for a further 11 weeks, before going home last September.

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vCreate Shortlisted for Two 2019 National Technology Awards


20 February 2019
      

vCreate Shortlisted for Two 2019 National Technology Awards

We are thrilled to announce that vCreate have been shortlisted for two 2019 National Technology Awards! The awards, "celebrate the pioneers of new technology and help drive standards and encourage excellence.”Learning that vCreate had been shortlisted for the Technology for Good award, and the Healthcare Technology of the Year award, Ben Moore, Founder of vCreate said:
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Leo's Charity Launch First Neonatal Mental Health Awareness Week


15 February 2019
      

Leo's Charity Launch First Neonatal Mental Health Awareness Week

2019 will see the launch of the UK’s first Neonatal Mental Health Awareness Week, taking place between April 15th - 21st, thanks to the charity, Leo’s. The neonatal charity was established in 2018 by Lottie King, in memory of her son, Leo. Lottie's story was recently covered by the BBC and you can watch it here.

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