Full-term thermoregulation by nurses and midwives is important for the survival, growth, and development of a newborn. Thermoregulation of newborns is a complex and critical physiological function influenced by many factors of which environmental control is one major factor. Nurses and midwives play an important role in maintaining the temperature of the newborn and need to have sufficient knowledge about thermoregulation. Globally, newborn hypothermia is a common and critical condition, which is increasingly recognised as a major cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. Hypothermia in full-term newborns has a potential to cause hypoxia, which may result in neurological injuries due to hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy. Hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy in newborns is one of the primary causes of newborn litigation cases. Nurses and midwives must have updated knowledge of the physiology of full-term newborn thermoregulation to prevent physiological harm in the newborn, subsequently avert medico-legal litigation.
Thermoregulation in newborns is often misunderstood and overlooked. What do nurses, and midwives need to know about thermoregulation in new-borns, and why is it so important? We set out to determine nurses’ and midwives’ knowledge on thermoregulation in new-borns to answer these questions.
A quantitative, descriptive, and contextual research design was used in conjunction with quota sampling method. The research was conducted in a private hospital group. Data collected was analysed and presented as descriptive statistics.
Among the 105 nurses and midwives, only 53 (50%) were exposed to full-term newborn thermoregulation teaching during their training. Only 50 (47%) respondents knew the normal temperature range for the full-term newborn, 76 (72%) could define hypothermia, 36 (34%) had knowledge of the processes involved when the full-term newborn loses heat.
Generally insufficient knowledge was found regarding full-term newborn thermoregulation physiology
Knowledge (theoretical and practical) of full-term newborn thermoregulation among the nurses and the midwives was found to be inadequate. Understanding the knowledge of nurses and midwives on thermoregulation in newborns may assist in the determining the need for nurses and midwives to receive additional training on the topic at undergraduate and postgraduate level and to ensure that policies and procedures in place in birthing and maternity units.