Health Beat: Preemie privacy: Better for baby?

McKinney, TEXAS - Today, one-year-olds Boston and Charlotte are happy and healthy, even though they were born 10 weeks premature. The neonatal intensive care unit — or NICU — where they spent their first six weeks wasn't like the old-fashioned baby barn. It was a private room.

"We felt like we were getting that one-on-one time with them that you might think being in a hospital might rob you of," said Chris Caver, Boston and Charlotte's father.

Parents Rachel and Chris held their babies skin to skin, in private, in a relaxed, more healing environment.

"I can't imagine having to do that in a public room with people around," said Rachel Caver.

"Of course, these babies will be under the supervision of the nurses, even for tiny, tiny babies, and then these babies' outcomes are awesome, because the parent is taking care of the baby," said Dr. Arpitha Chiruvolu, a neonatologist at Baylor University Medical Center at McKinney.

NICUs across the country are changing to single-patient rooms. Research shows babies gain weight more quickly, experience fewer invasive procedures, develop fewer infections, and have better overall outcomes, and moms produce more milk.

"It's not the room being separate. It's not that at all. It's the environment that allows mothers to feel as if they're mothers instead of visitors," said Debra Maître, director of nursing and women's services at Baylor University Medical Center at McKinney.

"We were able to feel like parents, being by ourselves. It made it as natural as it possibly could be in that situation, and we were able to feel like a mom and dad," Rachel explained.

It's a more private way to bond during those precious first days of life.

Some hospitals who currently do not offer private rooms will provide couches where parents can spend the night in the NICU.

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