Perfecting skin to skin contact for the most vulnerable babies - Vija Design is leading the way!

Perfecting skin to skin contact for the most vulnerable babies - Vija Design is leading the way!

Research continues to grow at a phenomenal rate proving the life-saving and long term beneficial impact of Kangaroo Care (prolonged skin to skin contact) for premature babies.  At the same time, more and more parents and maternity professionals are recognising that regular skin to skin contact from birth offers all babies enhanced physical, cognitive and emotional development and can deepen bonding and reduce stress in parents and babies too. 

The Vija Design range of Kangaroo Care clothing and wraps offers parents a supportive and comfortable way to hold their babies in skin to skin contact.  Their most specialised design has recently featured in a BBC Midlands video that's getting wide acclaim and viral attention across the UK. 

vija wrap being used by mum in heartlands hospital

Providing a safe environment in which parents can practice skin to skin contact with their premature babies can be challenging as the babies are vulnerable to infection, temperature regulation issues and may have a lot of monitoring equipment, breathing and nutrition support connected to their tiny bodies.  Vija Design was created by Vivianne Brault, following the  premature birth of her own daughter, to design garments that would help parents to hold their babies skin to skin in a secure, supportive way ensuring they could enjoy prolonged periods of Kangaroo Care safely.  Her work has helped thousands of babies in hospitals across the world to have Kangaroo Care.

The BBC's video shows a mum supported by the team at Heartlands Hospital to hold her baby in the very latest Vija Design Prema Wrap.  This specialist wrap has features designed to facilitate Kangaroo Care for babies who are on the highest level of support, who may previously not have been able to have skin to skin.  It was co-designed with help from neonatal nurses, by Vivianne Brault and our Neonatal Services Director, Leigh Dumighan; two mums, living on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean - both profoundly impacted by the arrival of their babies born early and in need of intense medical care to help them survive.

Leigh's son, Warwick, will turn 10 this summer.  He was born at Heartlands and was so unwell that his mum and dad were told to say goodbye when he was just a few weeks old.  But miraculously, when he was removed from the incubator and placed skin to skin on Leigh's chest to have some peaceful moments together before he passed away, he was so soothed by the contact with his mum that he held on to life.  He was sent home for palliative care and not expected to live more than a few days, but instead he stayed on his mum's chest as much as possible and defied all the odds.

Inspired by his incredible strength and the obvious power of Kangaroo Care Leigh has been a strong advocate of Family Centred Care for the past 10 years and is now involved in the Family Integrated Care project which Heartlands is currently setting up.  She gives talks to all levels of medical audiences, from student neonatal nurses to senior Neonatal specialists campaigning for the rights of parents to be fully involved in their premature baby's care.

Leigh founded Kangaroo Care UK in 2015 and has worked closely with NICUs around the UK to increase skin to skin contact rates by providing safe, supportive wraps which enable the most vulnerable of babies to enjoy Kangaroo Care.  Leigh approached Heartlands Hospital NICU team and worked with them to trial some of Vija Design's wraps with babies in NICU.  Working closely with the Lead Developmental Care Nurses and the Infant Feeding Lead she developed the idea of a prema wrap with side poppers.  The added safety of having quick access to the baby and a safe way to position wires or tubes has led to more vulnerable babies enjoying more skin to skin contact with Vija Design once again at the forefront of Kangaroo Care progress.

To talk to Leigh please contact her on leigh@vija-design.co.uk

James Warke

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