Parental perceptions of touch between parents and infants in the neonatal intensive care unit
The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the role of touch in the parental experience of having an infant in the NICU. Using a narrative analysis methodology, the researcher interviewed six parents who currently had infants in the NICU. Both mothers and one father were interviewed. Infant ages ranged from 24-28 weeks gestation and all infants were admitted within two weeks of the interviews. Four nurses were also interviewed to gain deeper understanding of their perceptions of parents and parental experiences of touching preterm infants. Overarching themes that emerged from the parent interviews were the phenomenon of touch experience both positive and negative, loss related to the experience of a preterm birth, support , and dynamics of primary nursing. Nursing overarching themes included general NICU responses, barriers perceived for parents, and protection of the infant.