Essentia-St. Mary’s Rolls Out NICU Innovation

"Roo-Wraps" Help Parents Have Skin to Skin Contact with NICU Infants

DULUTH, Minn. – For mothers in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, bonding with baby can be overwhelming.

“The mom would sit down, we would all come at her with her baby and all sorts of wires and equipment,” said Angela Follin, a Registered Nurse in Essentia-St. Mary’s NICU.  “It would be a little intimidating.”

But a new innovation, called Roo-Wraps help ease the tension.

“Roo Wraps are a product that we just recently introduced into our NICU to assist moms and dads, both, in the process of Kangaroo Care, or skin–to–skin,” said Follin.

Experts call skin–to–skin “Kangaroo Care” because of similarities to how a mother kangaroo carries her young.  Kangaroo Care isn’t a new concept at Essentia-St. Mary’s NICU.

“It makes your soul happy,” said Amanda Mallinson, who gave birth to two boys in the NICU. “And it’s something that fathers can share, in the bonding experience too.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants should get at least 60 minutes of skin-to-skin contact a day.

“It’s important because skin–to–skin is such a big part of our care here,” said Follin.  “We want it done as soon as possible, as early on in the baby’s life.”

Roo Wraps make skin to skin more personal, as it’s just mother and child, with minimal assistance from nurses.

“With the Roo Wrap the baby will be chest–to–chest with mom, and so there is that skin on the back that isn’t totally able to be skin–to–skin with mom, so the Roo Wrap wraps around,” said Follin.  “For the mom, it gives her just a kind of extra set of hands so that she can make sure the baby’s maintaining their airway, staying in that nice good position.”

Benefits for baby include accelerated brain development, stabilized temperature, as well as an improved immune system and digestive function.  Since introducing Roo Wraps, St. Mary’s NICU nurses notice a change in parents.

“People are feeling just more empowered and confident and able to endure that skin–to–skin time longer,” said Follin.

Which is better for baby, and better for parents.

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