Seona Emanuelli has spent her entire career working in neonatal units and caring for babies born from 23 weeks gestation. When the neonatal nurse and mum saw that there was a need for nappies created specifically for premature babies, Seona got to work creating Australia’s first premature baby nappy.
A need for specialised nappies
Earlier in my career nurses had the daily struggle of ill fitting nappies for our tiniest babies. Parents were also left feeling helpless as a nappy change is usually one of the only interactions they had with their baby. The bulk in the existing nappies moulded their hip outwards which increased their risk on bow leg and hip issues. So, we didn’t put a nappy on at all and this ran the risk of infection and skin breakdowns as the babies would be lying in their urinary output. I thought; “we can do better”.
A mission to create a nappy suitable for premmie babies
I started by cutting a maternity pad around a theatre hat and tying it on each side of the baby. I got a seamstress to hand make them all! Needless to say they failed. After many attempts and generations of nappies (and travelling to find a manufacturer that would make my product) the Bidibots nappy was born.
Bidibots are helping premature newborns and their parents
I talked to parents and asked what would make it easier for you to change your baby? I asked nurses what would you love to see in a nappy? I asked physiotherapists what the optimal position of the hip would be. I started measuring the girth of babies in various stages so I could gauge my sizes. Then it really was cold calling manufacturers for interest in building this with me. I really had a difficult time with this but got there in the end.
Today, Bidibots is 18 years old and provides three sizes of nappies for premature babies –
500-750g is our smallest and we go up to 2kg.
More than just a tiny nappy
The creation of Bidibots was supported by the very people that still care for premature babies today. It has the optimal hip position shape padding. I emulated the shape of the pad against an elderly patient requirement with no movement, fragility of bones, ligaments and muscles.
It has the soft tabs that fasten around the baby that can withstand the high temperatures and humidity that these babies are in. It has absorbency to stop the changing of bed linen that will usually increase the respiratory requirements (oxygen and pressure) of the baby (lifting of the baby does this).
It has a cut out at the front for access to umbilical lines that are used for drugs and fluids without the requirement to undo the nappy and it is made of soft non woven cotton and wood pulp fiber to ensure comfort for the baby is a priority. There is more to a Bidibots nappy than just its tiny sizing.
How it’s changing lives
The fact is NICU mums go through so many emotions and that can be all in one day. They are thrown into an environment that is overwhelming and loud and medical. They watch their baby being looked after by others, a job that was theirs, instead they ask permission to touch their own baby. They don’t have control and they can be going day by day or even hour by hour for the sickest of babies – the experience is hard.
So when I saw such an easy little change to a nappy design that could give the parent confidence in changing their baby, and would be easier for the nurse and also benefit the baby I thought “just go for it!”
If you want to learn more about Bidibots, or you are looking for a way to support a friend with a premature baby, click here.