Closest to your heart

Westmead Hospital NICU mother Nora Parvez and newborn Kai Parvez.

Having a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can be extremely stressful and confusing for families.

Bonding with your baby can be a struggle, especially when you are separated or when you cannot hold your baby.

Westmead Hospital’s NICU has recently launched the “Heart to Heart” program to help parents and their baby cope with separation.

Westmead Hospital neonatal lactation consultant Sarah Robinson-Hooke said soft fabric hearts are worn against the parent’s skin to absorb their scent.

“For times when a parent cannot be close to their baby, the heart can be placed with the baby, so they know the parent is always with them,” Ms Robinson-Hooke said.

“The familiar scent of the mother helps provide a calming environment for the baby.

“There is supporting evidence for the use of maternal scent with babies born preterm.

“Studies have shown improved breastmilk supply, calming, sucking and feeding.

Westmead Hospital NICU is looking for volunteers to sew hearts for our parents and babies.

If you are keen to help, please contact Sarah Robinson-Hooke 0408 455 090 for our heart patterns and instructions.

Westmead Hospital NICU mothers Cecile Sampan, Stacey Vella, Hannah Mahinay, clinical registered midwife Sarah Robinson-Hooke, mothers Nora Parvez and Mammy Bamba.