Compassionate Beginnings™ Program
The parent-child relationship is essential to the long-term wellbeing of any infant, but especially for newborn babies who are pre-term or medically vulnerable. For this reason, we offer the *Compassionate Beginnings™ Program to families with an infant in our Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Knowing that the sensation of touch plays a vital role in a baby's health and development, our NICU staff members, trained in the Compassionate Beginnings™ (CB) techniques, teach parents how to communicate in their baby’s first developed language ~ the language of touch.
Touch is the first sense to be developed by babies, starting in the womb around 4 - 6 weeks. As the baby experiences various types of touch, pathways are created in the baby’s brain from these experiences. CB has been carefully designed to let babies "learn" about their parents and the environment outside of the womb. It empowers parents to confidently provide direct comfort to their fragile infant, thus playing a vital role in their development. CB also teaches parents ways to counteract the experiences of invasive or painful procedures for the baby while living in the NICU.
How It Works
With the help of a trained health care professional (such as a Registered Nurse, Respiratory Therapist, or Physical Therapist), parents learn how to read their baby’s cues and behavior to identify when they are ready to be touched.
When ready, a parent begins by taking some deep breaths and/or a few shoulder stretches at the crib side to relax. Once focused, the parent may be guided to slowly place their calm, warm hands on the baby's bottom and head. This tells the infant that their parent is close by, and that there is security and comfort in this "new world" outside of the womb.
Contact may continue for up to 30 minutes, or at times only a few minutes, as tolerated by the infant. The parent communicates their love and caring through their touch and their voice. The baby’s cues and the medical monitors let the parent and health care professional know how well their touch is being tolerated and when to stop.
Here’s what some of our parents say:
"Thank you for taking the time to teach me about Compassionate Beginnings. I learned a lot about being present with my baby and especially how to comfort her. It gave me confidence, which I needed!"
"This program has made me feel more confident touching and handling my very small, fragile baby. Now I know ways to comfort her."
"I felt more capable of comforting my baby and bonding with her. We thank you and wish you and your Compassionate Beginnings program continued success."
- Mom and Dad of Twins
"Everyone should participate in the CB program. I wish I had this information when my other son was born premature. It would have helped me a lot."
The sensation of touch plays a vital role in our health and in our human development. Unfortunately, many babies in the NICU begin to associate touch with pain or discomfort. Compassionate Beginnings™ enables parents and medically fragile infants to form loving, bonded relationships within a high-tech environment. It provides parents an opportunity to form a secure relationship with their newborn – a simple gift with benefits that will last a lifetime.