Whilst some are stunned by this story, Nils Bergman has hardly batted an eye:
This is an emotive story, but hardly original!
Unusual, but occurs ... actually right here in Cape Town just two weeks ago !
To almost all newborn mammals, separation from mother is life-threatening. This activates a very powerful defence response, which is to shut down and immobiliseHe hypothesises that because the nervous system of prematures is so immature, if there is stress during delivery the only way their body can cope is to "shut down" to survive.
It is "skin-to-skin contact" which is the key, because the deep sensory fibres from the skin go to the "emotional processing unit" of the brain (amygdala), and tells the brain "you are safe". This de-activates the dissociation (un-safe mode), and restores the regulation (safe mode) - which is the real function of the vagal nerve.
These mothers are extremely vulnerable during what can be a traumatic experience, and as it stands women cannot even sleep on the same ward as their baby! In our SCBU & NICU unit (which were together) there was around 26 cots and 6 mother's rooms. Many are discharged home without their infant (yes really whilst supposedly trying to establish breastfeeding!) and end up in a frantic pattern of trying to express enough, get milk to the ward in time, sterilise everything required and then visit their baby - which of course is made a whole lot more interesting if you already have another child or few at home!
So many people fund raise for SCBU, yet I only ever hear about the next 15k required for a snazzy incubator. I know if people feel that saved their baby, they feel they are doing the right thing in helping others to also have access to technology; but just think what a profound difference this money could make if it was spent keeping babies and mothers together - not only in terms of health outcome in the short term, but breastfeeding rates would soar! there would be a real longterm gain.
Perhaps we need a campaign to provoke change? Anyone feel strongly enough to hop on board and help organise something? If so email me!