During her work at the Monash Medical Centre in 2008 Tania rotated through the neonatal unit. It was here that she discovered a profound passion for the care of newborns and infants. In 2013 Tania joined St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne and the Special Care Nursery has been better for it ever since.
Alongside a general fascination for neonatal care, Tania identifies certain aspects of a premature babies journey that intensely provoke her curiosity. She says the ‘resilience of babies is incredible’ and that this often relates to the shared bond between mother and child and the practise of ‘Kangaroo Care’. Also known as skin-to-skin contact, Kangaroo Care produces stronger outcomes in the ability and want for a baby to breastfeed as well as regulation of a babies physiological processes. Assisting with the development of the relationship between the baby and its parents is also of great interest to Tania who notes that ‘often the babies in SCN are premature and therefore much smaller and more fragile than what their parents may have been expecting. It is crucial to build the parents confidence in interacting with their child as these interactions assist the development of the baby so much’.
When asked what memories stick out in Tania’s mind when recalling her time in SCN she recounts ‘Baby T’ who was born at 29 weeks with a serious heart condition. Baby T needed to undergo two extensive heart surgeries and for many of the initial weeks of his life the likelihood of his survival was narrow, he didn’t go home until just before his first birthday.
The day-to-day operation of the SCN has Tania initially sit down with the parents of each baby and discuss their course of action. They then undertake the feeding, bathing and building of support networks for the baby and work on establishing the bond between parent and child. Tania notes the importance of having fun and finding joy in each process. On a lot of occasions it is often the first time for a parent hugging their child, changing their child’s nappy and feeding them. This is often daunting, so if it can be made to feel like a fun and gratifying task it assists in building the bond between parent and child.
While currently studying psychology, in the future Tania see’s herself focusing on the psychological relationship between parents and their premature babies as well as looking at methods in which a more holistic approach can be taken in the very early stages of parenting.