NICU Patient and Family Support
At first, you may find the NICU to be stressful. The unit can be busy, and there may be times you feel overwhelmed or a bit lost. But never underestimate the importance of your visits. To your baby, you are the only parent(s), the only consistent, loving voice and touch in a world of many people. Remember, you are a vital part of the neonatal team.
The nurse can help you learn how your baby responds to his/her world, and how you can help your baby to feel calm and soothed. Participating in your baby's care will help you feel more in control, and will help you feel more prepared to care for your baby. Some suggestions include:
- Talk to and touch your baby
- Take pictures of your baby for relatives or for a scrapbook
- Take your baby's temperature
- Change your baby's diapers
- Read to your baby at bedside
As your baby grows stronger, you should talk to your nurse about:
- Holding your baby
- Kangaroo Care
- Breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby
- Bringing in clothing from home to dress your baby
The best time to interact with your baby is just prior to feeding time. If you call ahead, the nurse can let you know your infant's feeding schedule for the day. Then, if you are able, plan you visit accordingly.
Setbacks Are Expected
In the NICU, you will quickly learn that all babies have good days and bad days, or "setbacks" in their progress towards coming home with you. The journey home for a hospitalized baby can easily feel like riding a rollercoaster. Setbacks can be disheartening and frustrating, especially if you've seen your baby enjoy many good days in a row. Your best defense against these periodic setbacks is education. If you understand that setbacks can be a normal part of a NICU baby's development, they can be less frightening. Talk to your doctor and nurses about your concerns and fears to gain an understanding of what is happening and why. Knowledge can help you regain some sense of security and safety.