Tips for Parents when Baby is in the NICU
Approximately 1 in 8 babies spend time in a hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), mostly due to premature birth; in the U.S., 98% survive. Every parent’s prayer is for a healthy child from the moment of birth, but even full-term newborns sometimes need hospital care.
At least a NICU is typically a very good place for a baby to be, due to advancements in specialized medical care. Of course, it’s difficult to see tiny humans hooked up to multiple machines. Parents ache to hold their newborns in their arms and to bring them home. The best thing to do is maintain a positive attitude and a sense of humor during the ordeal and look forward to the wonderful days ahead. The following are helpful tips for parents with babies in the NICU.
Be Nice to Nurses
The nurses in a NICU are there because they are specially trained to give exactly the type of care your baby is receiving. It’s easy to imagine that the job in itself comes with pressure. NICU nurses are the baby’s lifeline, and they are also there to help you. Be patient and nice toward the nurses, who will teach you how to bath and feed your wee one and how to change his diaper.
Be a Known Presence
Although it’s essential to be respectful, it’s also vital to meet the doctors as well as the nurses, desk attendants, and orderlies. Be present as much as possible and make sure the staff knows which baby they are caring for is yours. It’s human nature to be more careful and aware of what you are doing when, for example, you know you are being held accountable by a caring parent.
Sleep at Home
The temptation to stay at the NICU around the clock with your baby may be powerful, but it’s best if you sleep in your own bed at night. Keep in mind that the incubator your baby is in is purposefully set up to mimic the womb. Enjoy your night of uninterrupted sleep, and take a long shower in the mornings. Keep in mind that once your baby comes home, these could become long-forgotten luxuries.
There may be other times when it seems silly to remind someone to eat their food, but parents of NICU babies often need to hear it. Maintaining vigilance beside your baby is important, yes, but you aren’t doing your family any favors if you waste away. You may be allowed to eat sack lunches you bring with you. Whatever is required to make it happen, keep up your three squares per day.
Learn All You Can
Of course, you don’t have the same knowledge as medical doctors and nurses. While the medical staff may not have a lot of time for questions, ask anything that is causing you concern. When possible, seek answers online and then ask specific questions you feel unsure about. You can gain great peace of mind if you are doing something constructive with your thoughts, instead of worrying or fretting over the situation.
Everything is Going to Be Okay
It can affect parents in all kinds of strange ways, when their baby spends time in an incubator before going home. Don’t let yourself feel guilty that your baby missed out on human contact. Put worries aside while taking necessary steps to protect your child’s health, per doctor’s orders. Pick up on the parental duties you’ve been looking forward to, and allow yourself to simply enjoy your new baby.