Ab Initio International Spring 2009

Working with families and their newborn babies in a Portuguese maternity hospital

Anabela Araújo Pedrosa, Sofia Gameiro, Maria Cristina Canavarro
Clinical Psychologists : UnIP - Psychological Intervention Unit - Maternity Dr. Daniel de Matos-HUC, Coimbra, Portugal

Maternity hospital in Portugal
Maternidade Dr. Daniel de Matos dos Hospitais da Universidade de Coimbra

The Psychological Intervention Unit (UnIP - Unidade de Intervenção Psicol—gica), which we are affiliated, is located in Maternidade Dr. Daniel de Matos, Hospitais da Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal, (which includes the OB/GYN and Neonatology Services of the University of Coimbra Hospitals). The Unit has been in existence for almost ten years and over that period, it has evolved from a specialist external consultation facility to becoming an established service that assists patients and their families, both during their hospital stay and as part of our ambulatory consultations (cf.: www.huc.min-saude.pt/unipmaternidade/).
Coimbra Old Town and University
Coimbra Old Town and University

In our practice with new mothers and their babies, we had long felt the need for more sophisticated instruments to assess the mother-newborn relationship (and in so doing to be able to identify and work on possible adjustment problems). We knew that we needed something that would allow us to better assist new parents by helping them develop their knowledge and awareness of the characteristics of their newborn infants. The NBAS was such an instrument.

In 2007 we initiated our NBAS training with Prof. Joanna Hawthorne Amick, from the Brazelton Center in the UK. Two psychologists in our team were certified as NBAS examiners in 2008, while another will soon finish her training. Since then, NBAS has become an important part of our daily work with babies and their families in our Unit. In our practice, we have found that it is an especially useful tool in our work with depressed mothers and with teenage mothers, so that we are trying to use NBAS as a clinical tool with these two groups. Usually the first assessment occurs during the hospital stay (3-4 days after birth) and then follow-up contacts are scheduled for the following weeks.

We are also using the NBAS in a research project that assesses the behavior of newborn babies who were conceived through ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies). This study is on-going and more information can be found at this site: www.fpce.uc.pt/saude/rma_uk.htm. We will be sharing the results of this research shortly.

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