Support for Parents of Multiples in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Terri S. Clinger, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC; Jacqueline M. McGrath, PhD, RN, NNP, FNAP, FAAN



Each year, more than 400 000 families in the United States experience preterm birth, and with the advances in assisted reproductive techniques, many of these infants are one of twins or higher-order multiple births.[1,2] For families with multiple preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the same time, emotional distress and anxiety can be greatly increased. Because these infants each stabilize and improve individually, one infant may be discharged home before their sibling(s). With this event, parents are tasked with taking care of the infant at home while at the same time finding time to be in the hospital with the infant in the NICU. If there are other siblings involved, the stress the family is experiencing can be heightened.

Support for the family is essential in helping them cope with the potential problems of having infant(s) in the NICU and infant(s) at home concurrently. Parents may not be able to visit as often, so finding ways to facilitate their involvement is key. Through communication, supportive measures, and use of technology, positive outcomes can be achieved for the infant(s) and family.