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Rachel Jenkins

How webcams help parents bond with premature babies

Webcams could help to improve early bonding between parents and their premature babies.

Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University analysed the views of parents and professionals using webcams. The majority of parents in the study, published in BMC Pediatrics, benefited from being able to see their baby 24 hours a day, seven days a week in neonatal units. Thirty mothers and fathers and 18 professionals, including nurses, midwives, nursery nurses and doctors, were interviewed in a Scottish hospital over a six-month period.

Parents said that webcams gave them an increased feeling of closeness, enhanced emotional well-being and improved post-birth recovery. The technology also increased the involvement of family and friends through shared images from the postnatal area.

Those interviewed said that webcams allowed them to “feel that they were with their baby” even during periods of separation. They also said that they became more responsive to their babies’ needs, and seeing their child helped mothers to produce breast milk.

One mother of an eight-week-old premature baby girl said: “When I had my little boy I couldn’t see him straight away, whereas this time, having the camera means I can see her constantly. She’s right beside my bed, really. Also, with things like expressing milk, I’ve found that a lot easier.”

A small minority in the study, however, said the ability to see their baby round-the-clock heightened their anxiety rather than decreasing it.

The study suggested that webcam technology can offer an important solution to periods of separation. Susan Kerr, of the GCU, said that more work was needed to evaluate the benefits.