Marc-Antoine Landry, Kumar Kumaran, Juzer M. Tyebkhan, Valerie Levesque and Marcello Spinella
Background: Parents of babies admitted to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) undergo considerable stress. There is evidence that mindfulness reduces stress in these parents. Kangaroo Care is practiced in NICUs across the world and is stress-relieving. During Kangaroo Care, a baby is positioned in skin-to-skin contact with the mother’s (or father’s) chest for varying periods of time. Whether mindfulness practiced during Kangaroo Care in the NICU reduces parental distress has not yet been studied. The objective was to explore the feasibility and acceptability of teaching and practicing mindfulness during Kangaroo Care for mothers of premature babies. The objective was also to document preliminary outcomes of Mindful Kangaroo Care on maternal stress, anxiety, depression, and mindful awareness.
Method: In this pilot randomized controlled study, mothers of premature babies who were expected to stay in the NICU for at least four weeks were taught two mindfulness exercises to practice during Kangaroo Care and compared to mothers who received standard care with no mindfulness teaching. Mothers filled out stress, anxiety, depression and mindful awareness questionnaires at recruitment and after four weeks. Acceptability and feasibility questionnaires were also completed.
Results: Fifteen mothers per group completed the study. Compared to themselves, mothers in the Mindful Kangaroo Care group demonstrated a significant reduction in anxiety, depression and stress, and a significant increase in both the curiosity and decentering scores of the Toronto Mindfulness Scale. Compared to the standard of care group, mothers in the Mindful Kangaroo Care group showed a significant increase in both mindful awareness scores. Fourteen mothers found the intervention acceptable, one neutral.
Conclusions : Mindful Kangaroo Care was acceptable, feasible and led to a reduction in stress, anxiety and depression in mothers who practiced mindfulness exercises during Kangaroo Care.
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