Mothers and Fathers in NICU: The Impact of Preterm Birth on Parental Distress

Chiara Ionio, Caterina Colombo, Valeria Brazzoduro, Eleonora Mascheroni, Emanuela Confalonieri, Francesca Castoldi, Gianluca Lista


Preterm birth is a stressful event for families. In particular, the unexpectedly early delivery may cause negative feelings in mothers and fathers. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between preterm birth, parental stress and negative feelings, and the environmental setting of NICU. 21 mothers (age = 36.00 ± 6.85) and 19 fathers (age = 34.92 ± 4.58) of preterm infants (GA = 30.96 ± 2.97) and 20 mothers (age = 40.08 ± 4.76) and 20 fathers (age = 40.32 ± 6.77) of full-term infants (GA = 39.19 ± 1.42) were involved. All parents filled out the Parental Stressor Scale: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the Impact of Event Scale Revised, Profile of Mood States, the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support and the Post-Partum Bonding Questionnaire. Our data showed differences in emotional reactions between preterm and full-term parents. Results also revealed significant differences between mothers and fathers’ responses to preterm birth in terms of stress, negative feelings, and perceptions of social support. A correlation between negative conditions at birth (e.g., birth weight and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit stay) and higher scores in some scales of Impact of Event Scale Revised, Profile of Mood States and Post-Partum Bonding Questionnaire were found. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit may be a stressful place both for mothers and fathers. It might be useful to plan, as soon as possible, interventions to help parents through the experience of the premature birth of their child and to begin an immediately adaptive mode of care.


prematurity; NICU; parental stress; parenting; caring

Full Text: PDF HTML

Citing articles (via Crossref)

  • Chantal Lau (2017)
    Breastfeeding Challenges and the Preterm Mother-Infant Dyad: A Conceptual Model
    Breastfeeding Medicine
    doi: 10.1089/bfm.2016.0206
  • Andrea Abraham, Manya J. Hendriks (2017)
    “You Can Only Give Warmth to Your Baby When It’s Too Late”: Parents’ Bonding With Their Extremely Preterm and Dying Child
    Qualitative Health Research, 27(14), p. 2100(ff.)
    doi: 10.1177/1049732317721476
  • Ian Mitchell, Isabelle Defoy, ElizaBeth Grubb (2017)
    Burden of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Hospitalizations in Canada
    Canadian Respiratory Journal, 2017, p. 1(ff.)
    doi: 10.1155/2017/4521302
  • Justine Dol, Alannah Delahunty-Pike, Sheren Anwar Siani, Marsha Campbell-Yeo (2017)
    eHealth interventions for parents in neonatal intensive care units
    JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports, 15(7), p. 1835(ff.)
    doi: 10.11124/JBISRIR-2016-003246
  • Chiara Ionio, Gianluca Lista, Eleonora Mascheroni, Maria Giulia Olivari, Emanuela Confalonieri, Massimo Mastrangelo, Valeria Brazzoduro, Maria Antonella Balestriero, Annamaria Banfi, Andrea Bonanomi, Stefania Bova, Francesca Castoldi, Caterina Colombo, Paola Introvini, Barbara Scelsa (2017)
    Premature birth: complexities and difficulties in building the mother–child relationship
    Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 35(5), p. 509(ff.)
    doi: 10.1080/02646838.2017.1383977
  • Isabel María Fernández Medina, José Granero-Molina, Cayetano Fernández-Sola, José Manuel Hernández-Padilla, Marcos Camacho Ávila, María del Mar López Rodríguez (2017)
    Bonding in neonatal intensive care units: Experiences of extremely preterm infants’ mothers
    Women and Birth
    doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2017.11.008
  • Andrius Jurėnas, Virginija Paliulytė (2017)
    Sveikatos mokslai, 27(3), p. 57(ff.)
    doi: 10.5200/sm-hs.2017.041
  • Chiara Ionio, Elisabetta Salvatici, Emanuela Confalonieri, Luca Milani, Eleonora Mascheroni, Enrica Riva, Marcello Giovannini (2016)
    Mothers and fathers facing their children’s phenylketonuria
    Children's Health Care, p. 1(ff.)
    doi: 10.1080/02739615.2016.1275643
  • Justine Dol, Alannah Delahunty-Pike, Sheren Anwar Siani, Marsha Campbell-Yeo (2017)
    eHealth interventions for parents in neonatal intensive care units
    JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports, 15(12), p. 2981(ff.)
    doi: 10.11124/JBISRIR-2017-003439