Reflective writing

Dignity from the first breath: a student's experience

Queen's University Belfast children's nursing student Lynsey Wilgaus, a finalist from the NCYP Student Voice competition,  reflects on watching nurses preserve a baby's dignity at first breath.
Lynsey Wilgaus

Dignity is concerned with how people feel, think and behave in relation to the worth or value of themselves'.

Considering dignity from this perspective, some outside the nursing profession may view this as something we dont need to contemplate when caring for infants from birth, as developmentally, they lack the cognitive capacity to consider self-worth.

However, does that mean that their dignity is not as important as it is to adults?

Thoughtful act

As a prospective children and young peoples nurse in my second year, I am proud to say that dignified care was at the forefront of holistic nursing care for infants from my recent experience in clinical practice.

While observing an unwell baby receiving invasive care shortly after birth, I noticed a nurse placing a screen around the area.

I turned to see who she was shielding the infant from. I expected to

...

Dignity ‘is concerned with how people feel, think and behave in relation to the worth or value of themselves'.

Considering dignity from this perspective, some outside the nursing profession may view this as something we don’t need to contemplate when caring for infants from birth, as developmentally, they lack the cognitive capacity to consider self-worth.

However, does that mean that their dignity is not as important as it is to adults? 

Thoughtful act

As a prospective children and young people’s nurse in my second year, I am proud to say that dignified care was at the forefront of holistic nursing care for infants from my recent experience in clinical practice. 

While observing an unwell baby receiving invasive care shortly after birth, I noticed a nurse placing a screen around the area.

I turned to see who she was shielding the infant from. I expected to see the prying eyes of visiting parents or other nurses in the room – yet there were none. 

I realised in this single and thoughtful act that the nurse was not protecting this baby’s dignity because she needed to, but because it is what the baby deserved.

I reflected on this experience and remain committed to always preserving the dignity of my patients and embracing the meaning of dignity in its entirety.

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