One Born Every Minute
Top 10 Things You Should Know When Your Baby Is In The NICU
By Laura Sussely-Pope, Pregnancy.org
- Take care of yourself. There are few things more emotionally and physically draining than having your baby in the NICU. It can be very easy to ignore your own body’s need to rest. It’s okay to take a break and get some rest. The NICU nurses are wonderful at taking care of your baby and you will feel much more refreshed when you get back.
- Keep a small notebook with you to take notes. You’ll be feeling overwhelmed, stressed and tired – a perfect storm for forgetting information you are given. How much did baby eat? When did baby have a bowel movement? How many ounces did she gain? What do you need to do when she gets home? Coming home can be overwhelming, too. Use our checklist of what you should do before that wonderful day comes. There are milestones in NICU that you will want to remember and put in the Baby Book!
- Accept help (or ask for help) from friends and family with your other kids. Getting them to school, dance class, sleepovers, whatever their usual schedule requires. Having their baby brother or sister in NICU is scary for them, too. Not having you around as much is unsettling, too. Keeping their schedule as close to “normal” as possible is a great comfort.
- Accept help (or ask for help) from friends and family to sit with your baby in NICU so that you can spend time with your other kids. This is so important to help you and your kids stay connected. And fill them in on all the good things that are going on in NICU.
- Encourage your other kids to draw pictures for the baby’s crib in NICU. This is another good way for them to feel connected to their new baby brother or sister.
- When you’re away and you get a feeling that you need to know what’s happening, call. The NICU nurses are used to it and will not feel it is intrusive. They are with your baby and will happily update you. It’s OK to take the time for a shower before heading back!
- Bring your iPod. The constant beeping of all the machines can make you crazy. Something soothing can be very helpful.
- Advocate for your baby. If the lights are too bright, ask if they can be turned down. If your baby looks uncomfortable or something seems out of place, ask about it. If you’re told not to touch your baby, it’s okay to ask why and when will you be able to. One thing about NICU that can be very frustrating is that at a time when you should be close and bonding, you’re often unable to make contact, so you want information about when and how you will be able to.
- Find ways to bond. Bring a special book that you can make your “own” and read it softly to your baby several times a day. One particularly good one for a special needs child, for example, is “You Are Special” by Max Lucado. The important thing is that baby will hear your voice, softly and many times.
- Allow yourself a pity party. You’re entitled. You can invite whomever you want or you can have it by yourself. It isn’t fair, it hurts, it’s scary and it isn’t what you planned or hoped for! It stinks watching other moms getting to walk out of the hospital the day after they had their healthy baby without a problem in the world. Why you? Why your baby? Throw your party. And then… get on with it. That’s what being a NICU mom is about. Be prepared to have post-NICU stress. It’s real.
Above all, remember – today’s NICUs are amazing. And hopefully, your baby will be home soon and NICU will be a distant memory.