Exploring the lived experiences of midwives regarding the Kangaroo Mother Care initiative at a selected tertiary level hospital in the eThekwini District.
As intensive care of preterm infants and high-risk infants has evolved, the practice of close physical contact between parents and their infants has been curtailed, with the separation of mothers and their infants more the norm than the exception (Browne, 2004). However, in the past two decades, the physiologic and socio-emotional benefits of close physical contact between parents and their high-risk infants has been revisited, with the practice of Kangaroo Mother Care (skin-to-skin contact) dramatically increasing in neonatal care units worldwide (Browne, 2004). Although research on Kangaroo Mother Care’s effects is plentiful, literature reveals gaps in the research pertaining to the experiences of midwives and nurses in its practice (Chia, 2006 & De Hollanda, 2008). As the role of midwives/nurses has been identified as crucial for Kangaroo Mother Care practice, this gap was recognised, and impelled this research study to be conducted in order to further extend the practice of KMC for its benefits to infants and their families. Due to current staff shortages and poorly resourced neonatal facilities in our local hospitals, local data on midwives’ experiences of Kangaroo Mother Care was perceived to be a vital first step in exploring these experiences. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the lived experiences of midwives regarding the Kangaroo Mother Care initiative at a selected tertiary level hospital in the Ethekwini District. Interpretive phenomenology informed this study design, data collection and analysis. As Kangaroo Mother Care is a complex phenomenon, an interpretive paradigm allowed the researcher to access the meaning of participants’ experiences as opposed to explaining their predicted behaviour. Purposive sampling was used by the researcher to select the eight midwives working in the tertiary hospital in the Ethekwini District. The midwives were selected from the neonatal unit during August 2011. Data was collected through a single in-depth interview with each participant in the neonatal unit. The interviews were recorded and later transcribed verbatim to facilitate analysis. Colaizzi’s method of data analysis and representation was utilised. Eleven themes emerged from the analysis of the data. Themes were aligned to the research objectives and included the participants’ experiences of conceptualisations, experiences, hindering and facilitating factors of Kangaroo Mother Care. Conceptualisations were aggregated into two themes pertaining to a physiological concept of KMC and an emotive concept of KMC. The physiological concept regarded the catalytic action of KMC as a promotive agent in health through its effect in increasing average weight gain. Furthermore, KMC was seen as a protective agent in reducing cross-infection and hypothermia. These findings aligned with findings from authors in the literature review. An emotive concept of KMC was revealed by the participants’ input regarding the effect of the skin-to-skin contact in facilitating maternal-infant attachment through bonding. This study finding is supported by current literature. Lived experiences emerged regarding the theme of KMC in maternal instinct and capability, which findings encompassed increased maternal confidence and competence with which several authors concurred. Factors considered as hindering KMC included five themes which emerged as maternal concerns, increased work-load, lack of training, management support and resource scarcity. Contrary to these, facilitators of KMC included the need for motivation and education as well as the provision of a comfortable environment conducive to the practice of Kangaroo Mother Care. A number of recommendations for nursing practice, nursing education, communities and research based on the findings from the study were made available to relevant stakeholders. If implemented effectively, these recommendations may assist in the continued and increasing practice of KMC; resulting in its beneficial effects changing infants’ and families’ lives.
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