1. MacNeil, Morgan BScN, RN
  2. Campbell-Yeo, Marsha PhD, MN, NNP-BC, RN
  3. McCulloch, Holly MASc, BSc
  4. Hughes, Brianna BScN, RN
  5. Dol, Justine PhD
  6. Marriott, Nicola BSc
  7. Smith, Victoria BSc
  8. Alcock, Lynsey MSc, MPH, BHSc


Purpose: To describe parental experiences in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) during the COVID-19 restrictions. We explore what parents found most challenging, the impact these restrictions had on them and their infant, and how they coped.


Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was completed by parents of infants who required care in a Canadian NICU during the early period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from 3 questions were coded using thematic analysis.


Results: Participants (n = 161) were primarily mothers (93%), with an average length of stay of 32.1 days. Three themes were identified from responses: (1) emotional and physical closeness of the parents to their infant; (2) physical and psychosocial well-being of the infant and parent; and (3) how parents coped, and strategies for moving forward. Parents reported that parental restriction policies adversely impacted their perceived physical and emotional closeness with their infant and their infant's physical and psychosocial well-being. Parents reported that being able to be present with their infant, having their partner able to be present with them, and effective communication helped them cope.


Conclusion: Despite the need for some restrictive policies to control the spread of the virus, the benefits and risks to the overall well-being of the parents and infants must be weighed.