Every moment of separation while their newborn is in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can feel like an eternity to parents. Many infants, immediately postpartum, spend hours to maybe a day in a neonatal ICU, some stay for weeks or months. That’s anguish for parents, but something that can be mitigated in large part through the use of a small, unobtrusive video camera, affectionately known at maternity units as a babycam.
The babycam is one form of TV viewing that has been shown to be quite medically efficacious. A research report from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences titled, “Remote Viewing of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Babies by Mother Promotes Bonding, Potentially Improves Infants’ Long-Term Outcomes,” findings which are supported by a similar study from U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, show that babycams were found to be a distinct factor in healing and health care.
As such, many hospitals have been quick to install the inexpensive babycam (about $1,000 each in addition to an annual fee to cover technical support) as an easy way to keep the distress of separation and worry at bay…and to shorten hospital stays for both newborn and mother.
Having pre-scheduled a video visit with the nursery staff, parents of newborns need only use a secure password to sign into a hospital’s website. A NICU nurse or technician rolls the webcam over to the infant’s incubator or isolette and turns it on. The camera mounted above incubator provides parents access to a live video stream that they can watch anywhere from phone, laptop or computer.
“We work very hard at having every family see every baby every day,” said Dr. Frank Manginello, director of neonatology at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He stresses the babycam’s utility, especially when parents are prevented by bad weather from getting to the hospital, or by the father who is on a military deployment or business trip. The NICU at the UMass Memorial Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts uses a NICVIEW Camera System as its babycam, as part of its general neonatal practice and overall “commitment to providing patient- and family-centered care.”
A few years away, there may well be millions of neonatal videos of newborns taking up sizeable portions of every family’s treasured photo album. Until then, keep cueing the newborns.