Amrita Hospital, Faridabad inaugurated a Mother-Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (M-NICU), marking the first of its kind in India’s private healthcare sector. The unit prioritises a “zero separation from birth” policy which aligns with research by the World Health Organization (WHO). Their findings focus on the indisputable role of immediate-after-birth Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) in saving lives of neonates.
With ever-rising neonatal deaths due to prematurity and low birth weights, the establishment of M-NICUs has become the need of the hour. WHO’s Immediate Kangaroo Mother Care (iKMC) trial, conducted in five centres, including India, focused on infants weighing 1 to 1.8 kgs.
WHO research revealed that initiating KMC immediately after birth and prolonging its duration reduced neonatal deaths by 25%. This led to the establishment of M-NICUs, emphasising the critical role of early initiation of continuous Kangaroo Mother Care in enhancing the survival of preterm infants.
“Zero separation of small and sick babies in M-NICU has proven to minimise infection and low-temperature risks while promoting early breastfeeding,” said Dr Nidhi Gupta, Senior Consultant, Department of Neonatology, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.
“This approach strengthens an emotional bond between mother and baby, enhancing maternal satisfaction and making mothers the primary caregivers under supervision, aligning with Family-Centred Care principles.”
With the M-NICU launch, Amrita Hospital aims to foster a supportive environment for new mothers and neonates alike. The hospital provides complimentary stays, ensuring a holistic approach to care. With earmarked spaces for self-care and regular rounds by the obstetric team, the M-NICU has served around 50 mother-neonate dyads.
The staff at Amrita’s operation theatres, labour rooms, and NICUs have also been trained by experts, under the guidance of Dr Pratima Mittal, Department Head, Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Dr Hemant Sharma, Consultant, Department of Neonatology, to ensure sustainability. Positive feedback and successful outcomes, particularly with preterm infants discharged healthy and exclusively breastfed, showcase the impactful and compassionate nature of this initiative.
Dr VK Paul, a Member of the Govt of India’s National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Ayog), was Chief Guest at the M-NICU launch. In his address, he explained how the realisation dawned that limiting a mother’s time with her infant in ICU care was unjust and rooted in unfounded fears.
“Embracing Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) unveiled its transformative impact on both infants and maternal sentiments. Through rigorous psychological testing, we observed KMC’s calming effect, reducing anxiety and worries for mothers,” he said.
“This propelled us to delve deeper into the research, evolving KMC from a study to a movement. Today, it stands as a pivotal stream, acknowledging the profound role of mothers in the healing journey of babies in the ICU.”
Dr Rajiv Bahl is the Director General with the India Council of Medical Research (ICMR), another Govt of India initiative. He attended the launch as Guest of Honour and emphasised how stressful it is to separate mothers and infants, especially with intensive care. He said embracing KMC redefines compassionate healthcare.
“Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, stands as a beacon, creating M-NICUs outside government realms. The swift integration of KMC into global guidelines echoes the profound shift in recognising the irreplaceable bond between a mother and her child. In the pursuit of medical care, the unity of mother and newborn is not just a choice but a necessity.”
KMC in M-NICU significantly reduces infant deaths, infections, and complications like hypothermia. Initiated immediately post-delivery, transport, and continuous KMC in the NICU enhance breastfeeding, shorten hospital stays, and promote bonding. For infants on respiratory support, a unique securing method maintains airway patency, while monitoring heart rate and oxygen levels ensures comprehensive care in the M-NICU setting.
“At Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, we take immense pride in launching North India’s first M-NICU in a private set-up. This milestone aligns with our commitment for advancements in healthcare. By prioritizing Zero Separation, promoting immediate Kangaroo Mother Care, and providing comprehensive support, we aim to redefine neonatal care,” said Dr. Sanjeev Singh, Medical Director, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.
“The M-NICU reflects our dedication to enhancing survival rates and fostering early mother-infant connections, marking a proud moment for our institution and a significant stride in healthcare innovation.”
Amrita Hospital, Faridabad’s highly specialised multidisciplinary children’s hospital is home to maternal and foetal medicine and all paediatric sub-specialities, including paediatric cardiology, heart surgery and transplantation, etc. This is a feature that most hospitals in India lack as many private hospitals do not see maternal care as financially sustainable.