The very preterm birth of an infant is physiologically traumatic for the infant and physiologically and psychologically traumatic for the parents. The manner of care delivery in the first few days and weeks of the infant's life plays a large role in determining the impact of that trauma. For optimal outcomes parents need to be integrated into the care process as the primary practitioners of their infant's care in the neonatal intensive care unit. Supporting and enabling parents to be central to the care process establishes a consistent care environment where parents are in control and able to support their infant's physiological and psychological needs, thereby improving infant outcomes and reducing parent stress and anxiety. This article reviews the role of parents in the optimal development of preterm neonates, and discusses the elements crucial to promoting parent involvement in the neonatal intensive care unit and supporting parents following discharge.
Keywords: Care provision; Care-by-parent; Family-centred care; Family-integrated care; Infant; Neonatal intensive care; Premature.
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