Religious and Spiritual Journeys: Brief Reflections from Mothers and Fathers in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

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The birth of a child is often accompanied by elation and celebration, but when a birth results in admittance to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the typical emotions of joy and celebration may be tempered with anxiety and fear. Parents with a religious and spiritual worldview may find their faith and spiritual lens is an important aspect of coping with their NICU experience. There is a dearth of literature on this issue, and thus a pilot study was implemented that included eight mothers and fathers of babies admitted to the NICU. Parents responded to a brief interview 4 to 6 weeks after discharge that focused on how their religious or spiritual worldview changed as a result of their NICU experience, how they coped with their premature newborn after discharge, and the perceived impact on their spousal/partner relationship. Results indicated that parents who presented to the NICU with a religious or spiritual background indicated their faith grew as a result of their experience in the NICU. Parents without a religious or spiritual worldview also reported being able to adequately manage their NICU experience and reported little to no change in their religious or spiritual lives. Further, parents reported they coped well after their babies' discharge from the NICU and had supportive spousal relationships. This pilot study supported assessment of religious and spiritual experiences as a salient aspect in NICU parents' lives. Further study is necessary to elucidate how religiosity and spirituality can be strengthened for families during this challenging time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
JournalPastoral Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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