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Sick and premature babies at Mater Mothers’ Hospital have been enjoying some quiet time thanks to a reading corner set up within the hospital’s Neonatal Critical Care Unit.
More than 150 children’s books across 10 rooms are available for parents and nurses to read to Mater’s smallest bookworms while also helping to lift the spirits of parents and nurses during the global pandemic.
Wakerley mum Rhiannon Lisle, 36, read books daily to her daughter Penny who was born premature at 29 weeks + 3 days on December 12.
“It’s another special way to bond with Penny aside from cuddles and breastmilk. Penny’s big brother Hamish picked the books each day,” Ms Lisle said.
“I felt calm and relaxed reading to Penny knowing she could hear my voice.”
Mater volunteers have individually covered each book for infection control purposes and parents maintain the cleaning of books daily to ensure other families continue to enjoy the reading corner.
Director of Mater Mothers’ Neonatal Critical Care Unit Dr Pita Birch said there had been a lot of research into the benefits of reading to babies.
“We understand babies can hear from as early as 23-26 weeks gestation and we believe language exposure is important for normal brain development in those born preterm as well as unwell term babies,” Dr Birch said.
“Our littlest patients are in an unfamiliar new world and we know hearing their parents’ voices can be very calming. In addition, reading gives our parents the ability to bond with their newborn babies in an environment where they have limited activities they can do with them.”
Neonatal Critical Care Unit Clinical Nurse Consultant Renee Muirhead coordinated the project with Mater Preterm Clinical Nurse Stacey Paplawski and said it was never too early to start reading to your child.
“For parents, it’s an easier way to talk to their babies and give them some normality in what can be a very stressful and challenging environment,” Ms Muirhead said.
“The uptake on our reading corners have been so good, even the nurses choose books to read to the babies.
“It’s lovely to see parents have an opportunity to read to their little ones and enjoy time together.”
Mater Foundation provided funding to help establish the reading corner in each of the Neonatal Critical Care Units at Mater Mothers’.
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