All about your Baby’s first cradle – The incubators

A neonatal incubator is a closed medical equipment with regulated temperatures and infant friendly environment. The temperatures are regulated usually between 35.5 o c and 36.6 o c. It helps a newborn to adjust to the normal parameters of the environment such as air, temperature, humidity, etc. The main purpose of it is to take care of those premature babies or other ill affected or disabled ones. It is usually made available in the pediatric hospitals and neonatal intensive care units.

Where It All Began…

The story of Babies’ first medical cradle began in 1903; when Dr. Martin A. Couney, a physician and pioneer in Neonatology worked hard to save his premature daughter by inventing incubator for helping her survive. He wanted to save many more lives who were suffering just like her daughter. Unfortunately, his first attempt was not financed by any banks. But that didn’t discourage him. He took his plan forward by exhibiting his invention before public and made them aware about the importance and functions of incubators. He made sure that the treatment for his pediatric patients was free of cost and none of them died. The exhibition was a massive hit in his career with a daily walk in about 3600 visitors and this lead to the acceptance of the concept “incubators”  and hospitals were in great demand for the same.

What Does It Do?

Favourable conditions for living-

The most conspicuous property of an incubator is to provide favourable conditions of living for the infants during the first few days after their birth. As it is noise proof, it allows the infants to get plenty amount of rest and relaxation. The design of incubators is such a way that it protects the infants from the common flu and related symptoms. The enclosure makes sure that the infants are kept out of all pollutants and allergens etc.

Facilitates oxygenation

Incubators facilitate Oxygenations which facilitate breathing. It is beneficial for treatment for infant respiratory distress syndrome, which is identified as the major cause of death in infants. Following are the oxygenation techniques:

  1. Using nasal cannula- A tube placed right in front of the nostrils that aids in supplying oxygen directly into the nostrils.
  2. Using a plastic hood – it’s placed over the infant’s head, which creates an oxygen supplying environment.
  3. Using continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP- Its a type of respiratory device (a small mask or nasal prong) that fits in the infant’s nose. It is mainly for the treatment of premature infants

Monitors Health condition-

The health condition of the infant is monitored using the following instruments inbuilt in the incubator such as:

  1. Cardiac monitors
  2. Brain-scan equipment
  3. Blood-monitoring equipment
  4. Thermometers and other instruments

(For observing vital signs)

Body temperature and heart rates of the infants can be accurately measured inside the incubators as it has a closed and a sound proof environment.

Things to Make Sure…

  1. The incubator should be sterile, protecting infants from germs and minimizing the risk of infection.
  2. The monitoring instruments inside the incubator should be thoroughly checked for its proper functioning before the baby is placed in it.
  3. The oxygenation devices should be sterile and should perform the exact function in order to prevent infections and lack of oxygen supply.
  4. Humidity is maintained at 50 to 60 percent. It could be raised high as 85 to 100 percent, depending upon the medical conditions of the newborn.