Aim: Following extreme preterm birth, there has traditionally been felt an imperative to rush baby to the neonatal unit for ongoing intensive care. Immediate needs of parents to bond with their babies through direct early physical contact have often been overlooked; many weeks can pass before parents get to hold their babies for the first time. Recognition of the importance of early contact is growing. We aimed to review the safety and value of routinely practising delivery room cuddles for extremely preterm babies. Methods: We reviewed delivery room cuddles in babies born <27 weeks’ gestation in our centre between 2006 and 2017 via case-control. We also conducted a questionnaire survey of mothers who experienced a delivery room cuddle to gain their feedback and perspectives. Results: We found no difference in age or temperatures on neonatal unit admission. There was no case of inadvertent extubation associated with cuddles. Parental feedback was very positive. Conclusion: With appropriate safeguards, delivery room cuddles are feasible and achievable for extremely preterm babies irrespective of birth gestation. Facilitation of the cuddle is an early and very important family-centred care practice which seems much appreciated by parents and which may improve bonding, lactation, and maternal mental health.
- family-centred care