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NICU Parent-Led Peer-To-Peer Support Services

Position Paper


The Experience

NICU parents are forced to experience the trauma of having their newborn baby admitted to the hospital instead of bringing them home. Many of these parents have also experienced a traumatic pregnancy and childbirth. These parents can be confused by the myriad of hospital policies and protocols to which they are exposed. Peer support can help these parents navigate hospital system more effectively, give them a support system of other parents who have experienced a similar journey, and help them feel less isolated. Peer support can also help parents meet their baby’s care needs more efficiently, and with greater confidence and hope.

As NICU graduate and bereaved parents, we have well-founded and invaluable knowledge from our lived experiences; therefore, we are the perfect group of experts to discuss such an important topic and advocate for the establishment of such programs.

Every parent of every baby admitted to a Special Care Nursery or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) should be offered peer support from a “veteran” NICU parent mentor during their baby’s hospital stay. Ideally, this opportunity would be a part of a NICU’s comprehensive family support program.

The Goal

The goal of our position paper is to show all Special Care and NICU physicians, nurses, and hospital management that peer-to-peer support services should be offered to each parent once their baby is admitted to the hospital. Hospitals are encouraged to take advantage of services and programs that already exist in their area, or create a program if the former is not an option.

We have included several other sources of information and previous research done on the topic to use as a reference and to support our position.

Please join NPN in sharing our position paper with hospital leadership, mental health advocacy groups, neonatal physicians, bedside nurses, therapists, and policymakers so that we can bring much-needed emotional support to a population of parents who need it.