The Montreal Children's Hospital neonatal intensive care unit is one of the few in North America to try out new wireless technology that allows parents better access to their newborn babies.

The study is already making life easier on young mothers.

In a Canadian first, the wireless monitoring system checks babies' vital signs wirelessly. A chest monitor monitors the newborn's breathing and heart rate, while a foot monitor checks the baby's blood oxygen levels.

"When the mum holds the baby, the baby's blood pressure gets better, the temperature gets better, the heart rate gets better," said Dr. Guilherme Sant'anna, an associate professor of pediatrics at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

That's exactly what happened with new mother Nathalie Nicolas. She gave birth to her premature infant son at only 25 weeks, who, at the time, had a half dozen wires and tubes attached to him.

"It's like a shockwave of like, what's going on. It's stressful, it's impressive. You ask yourself, 'what's happening to him?'" the new mother said.

newborn mom

But she volunteered for him to wear sensors that were part of a pilot project that should last for about a year.

"It means we're able to follow up on the baby's condition at a distance, so the nurse doesn't have to go in six, seven times in an eight-hour shift," said Dr. Pierre Gfeller, the MUHC president.

It also gives mothers an earlier chance to hold their precious newborns.

"It's going to facilitate bonding between the parent and the baby, and it's going to be easier for our staff," Gfeller said.

Sant'anna added the morass of wires can form a big obstacle. "The wires can get tangled around, can go on the floor, can get disconnected," he said.

The MUHC has 50 wired beds in its neonatal care centre. The pilot project involves 20 wireless beds, which it hopes can become the standard across the province.

It's a standard that one grateful mother already prefers.

"It's easier to take your kid in your arms, it's easier to dress him because it's difficult to find premature baby clothes," said Nicolas.

Her son showed up extremely preterm and this project allowed her to spend some of his first days in her arms, no strings attached.