Stohm’s story

Stohm’s story – a premie’s journey

This photo essay was made ten years ago, but still illustrates the impact of skin-to-skin contact. In this updated version the basic text and pictures have been only slightly modified from the original. At the time, the photos were taken using camera with film (not digital!), then later scanned . Like most micro-premies, Stohm had some difficult passages, which are not related in the photos. A Word document “medical “summary” of her 99 days in hospital can be downloaded here.

In this first section, the focus is on the skin-to-skin contact, a second page illustrates breastfeeding of a premature. A third photo story shows Stohm going home in the KangaCarrier.

Stohm01 incubator

Sharleen has very kindly agreed to have these photographs here to illustrate Kangaroo Mother Care. It is the 30th November 2001 as I write this, and these photographs were taken 28th November 2001.

Little baby Stohm (pronounced “Storm”) is now four weeks old, and weighs 775 grams.A mother will often feel so helpless faced with a very premature baby being cared for in an incubator. She can do little more than just be there, and to gently hold and touch her baby. This is important, newborns even of this age can hear and feel, and recognise mothers voice and smell.

But the incubator is nevertheless a separation of mother and baby.

Stohm14 expressing

Though Sharleen may feel helpless, there is one critical, vital, essential and important thing she can do: provide expressed breastmilk.

There is NOTHING that can replace mother’s own milk, and there is nothing that will provide better protection and better growth.

Sharleen expresses comfortably by hand, and does so regularly at home to make sure there is always enough.

Stohm02 moving out Stohm03 moving to SSC

Stohm is being fed by nasogastric tube and is on nasal oxygen. Sister has carefully picked up Stohm, and Sharleen is on her way to sit down next to the incubator. Our Nursery is very cramped, but all you need is a comfortable chair.

Here Stohm is being placed on Sharleen’s exposed chest, with tubes and monitor leads all secured

Stohm04 being placed SSC Stohm 05 starting SSC Stohm is placed in a flexed posture (frog position), and fits inside mother’s shirt. Stohm’s head is turned to the side, and is slightly extended.
(fetal position better than frog !!)Notice how relaxed Stohm is. Sharleen has been giving skin-to-skin contact almost every day since birth. Stohm settles very quickly, not always the case after transfer.
Stohm07 opens eyes Stohm06 safe in SSC

Sharleen is making very gentle stroking movements with her fingertip on Stohm’s skin, and nuzzling her head.

After one or two minutes, Stohm cranes her neck and opens her eyes, and looks upwards, probably looking for mom’s face

Stohm08 settled in SSC Stohm13 oxygen 97

After a few minutes of being awake and alert, Stohm will settle down to sleep.

The white cable is the monitor lead ….

… which shows that throughout this period, the heart rate has been stable at around 150 beats per minute, and the oxygen saturation stable at 97%.

Stohm09 sharleen big eyes Stohm10 Sharleen relaxes Stohm11 Sharleen chatting Thereafter, Sharleen makes herself comfortable. She has spent many hours reading novels, but also encouraging the staff and other mothers.
Stohm12 doctor visits Stohm15 Sharleen observes

Dr Sandy visits.

Sharleen can also just spend time enjoying her baby, and knowing that she is doing the very best she can for her!

Stohm16 father finger tips Stohm17 father finger strokes Stohm’s father visits when he can ….
…and does touching and gentle stroking.
Stohm21 Sharleen moves her baby Stohm20 Sharleen settles herself Sharleen moves Stohm from the incubator onto her chest, standing close by and being careful with the tubes and the saturation monitor still attached to Stohm’s foot.
(Mothers quickly learn how to handle even micro-premies, saves a lot of work for staff! )
Stohm22 Sharleen adjusts leads Stohm23 Sharleen settled in SSC

Sharleen then sits down on the chair next to the incubator, and makes herself comfortable.

Though Stohm is on treatment for the infection, she remains stable during KMC.

Stohm24 incubator with bunny Just briefly …
Stohm had a difficult Christmas, despite the nice bunny, but is now doing fine.7th January 2002 weighs 1200g and is now off oxygen support, though still being tube fed, at this point with an orogastric tube, hence the “boxing gloves”.
(Notice nostrils, nasal prongs rounded!)
Stohm25 father SSC first time Stohm27 father SSC connecting 7th January 2002
Father Johnny is here doing skin-to-skin for the second time ever. Sharleen can’t come today, so Johnny has come during his extended lunch-break. Even an hour of skin-to-skin is good for a premature.
Stohm28 father is proud in SSC Says Father Johnny;
“At first I was too frightened, she is so small. But she likes it so much, and I like it too.Story continues – see Stohm breastfeed for the first time and then go home in the KangaCarrier.