Objective: To describe the maternal experience of kangaroo holding premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Design: Qualitative, naturalistic inquiry design using open-ended, transcribed audiotaped face-to-face interviews.
Setting: Level III 70-bed tertiary care neonatal intensive care unit in Delaware.
Participants: Eighteen mothers who kangaroo held their premature infants were interviewed over a 5-month period of time.
Intervention: Mothers were interviewed following a 60-minute kangaroo holding session in the neonatal intensive care unit. Additionally, unobtrusive detailed observation of each mother's kangaroo holding experience was recorded and analyzed.
Main outcome measure: Maternal behaviors and interactions and related nursing and environmental interactions.
Results: Triangulation of demographic data, observation data, and themes of the interviews supports the use of kangaroo holding as a method to improve maternal confidence in caring for premature infants. Mothers reported feelings of "being needed" and "feeling comfortable" with the holding experience regardless of the infant's physical health status.
Conclusions: Results identify maternal experiences of and responses to kangaroo holding in the intensive care environment, leading to the increased understanding of the multifaceted advantages of kangaroo holding on maternal attachment behaviors.