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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Intro and Tips for When your Baby is in the NICU

When you have a premature baby, for the period of time your baby is in there, your life is completely changed. One thing that surprised me was the lack of information available, both from the hospital we were at, and on the internet.

As I state in my profile, I am not a medical professional. Always listen to the advice of your medical practitioners. This blog is purely for advice from a parents perspective.

I’ll be going into much more detail in later posts but I thought I’d start with my key NICU tips:
  • Learn the rules of the NICU (do they have somewhere to store your stuff? What hours can you visit? Who else can visit? Hand washing routines etc)
  • You can ask the nurses and doctors anything. In my experience, they like to educate the parents. You can ask them to repeat things, explain in a different manner, drop medical terminology etc. You are the customer and the NICU should respect your role as parents.
  • Respect the other families in there as you would like to be respected. When their babies are having x rays, leave the room without complaint. Don’t play loud dance music when you get good news about your baby (as one family did just as we were getting quite bad news about our baby). Don’t pry too much into their personal lives and try not to judge, as its difficult to know what they are going through.
  • Be polite and respectful with the staff, but firm. At first I wanted to make life easier for the nurses and doctors. It took me about a month to toughen up and realise that some of them would slack off totally given the chance. But never be rude with them unless absolutely necessary. They are the gateway to your childs care and it is important to establish a good, but professional, relationship.
  • Try to learn what is happening to your baby, bit by bit. At first I focused on the monitors, what the heart rate, blood oxygenation and breathing rate signified and their interactions. Then the weight chart that the nurses kept. Then other medical factors, such as the level of oxygen being supplied, the types of drugs being administered, their dosage and frequency.
  • Seek information. Our NICU had a copy of various medical tomes, which, though laden with medical terminology, were invaluable for understanding the various conditions and diagnoses we were hearing about.
  • Utilise the downtime. When being with your baby, there are periods where they will need to sleep uninterrupted by your talking or touching them. Having something to do while sitting there is good. A book, a game, an iPad, something!
Any other tips or thoughts? Share it in the comments!

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