1 (440) 442-6677


Get Legal Help

Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

Learn More

Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

Get Your Free Guide Now
Get a Free Case Evaluation

Therapeutic Hypothermia - Touching Your Baby during Treatment

Infants who are deprived of oxygen during labor or delivery can suffer serious brain damage as a result. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, HIE, is a condition in which there has been oxygen deficiency to the brain of an infant.

Get A 100% Free CASE Evaluation     

. HIE is a serious condition which may be treated with cooling therapy during the first several days of life. Therapeutic hypothermia treatment requires the infant to remain in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for up to 72 hours while treatment is being provided.

Maintaining Body Temperature

Elk & Elk

While your infant is receiving cooling treatment, it is essential that his temperature is properly maintained. The baby must remain on the cooling blanket in order to ensure that the body’s temperature remains constant. Picking up and holding the baby immediately raises the infant’s body temperature. This can cause treatment to be interrupted and thus become ineffective. It can also cause the body to warm too quickly, making changes to the body’s physiology that could be harmful or dangerous. For these reasons, parents are typically not allowed to pick up or hold their babies while they are being treated.

However, parents can usually visit their child and may even be allowed to touch him or her. You may talk to your baby and visit with him for short periods of time as allowed by the specific rules of the NICU. It is important to note that infants are likely sedated and may also be hooked up to various IVs and monitoring devices. This can cause parents great concern. Rest assured that the baby is being well taken care of and is under constant care by qualified medical personnel.

Touching Helps Newborns

Touching your newborn can have a positive impact on their development. Before your baby was born, touch was the first sensory organ to develop. The skin develops from the same group of embryonic cells as the nervous system, so there is a strong connection between the two. Touch is important to create an emotional bond with your newborn. There are some benefits of touching that should be noted. Touch can provide relaxation to an infant by altering oxytocin levels in the body. Touching the baby regulates vagal tone, advances an awake state and improves motor activity while boosting physiological responses. Touching your infant is a way of connecting with him and can provide him with a feeling of comfort.

How to Touch Newborns

Newborns in the NICU are often not allowed to be picked up, especially when they are receiving cooling therapy. Massaging and stroking is not usually recommended at this time because the infant is too fragile. Instead, you may speak gently to your child and make eye contact, if the child is awake. Containment holds are where you place one hand on the head and one on the stomach and hold in place for up to 12 minutes at a time. This, however, could interfere with the temperature of the infant. Instead, you may be allowed to touch the infant’s feet or hands for a short period of time. Containment holds may not be recommended in your particular case, so you should discuss this option with the medical team.