Objective: To describe parents' reaction to a prenatal tour of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) during a high-risk pregnancy and identify advice they have for other parents and health care professionals who participate in a such a tour.
Design: Naturalistic inquiry, a qualitative approach.
Setting: Semistructured interviews were conducted in the hospital or parents' home.
Participants: Thirteen expectant parents who had toured a NICU during a high-risk pregnancy.
Main outcome measures: Three categories of information were described by the parents: (a) a description of the tour; (b) benefits of the tour; and (c) an evaluation of the way that the tour was arranged and conducted, including advice to health care professionals and other parents.
Results: All parents recommended that parents diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy be offered a prenatal tour of the NICU. The tour benefited parents and (a) decreased fears, (b) inspired hope for the infant's prognosis, (c) provided reassurance about the care in the NICU, and (d) prepared parents for their infant's hospitalization in the NICU.
Conclusions: Parents experiencing a high-risk pregnancy benefit from a tour of the NICU. The tour familiarized parents with the NICU and the type of care that their newborn would require. However, during the tour, more attention should be given to the parental role in the NICU.