"I don't think I could have made it without knowing that (the Brandon staff) were right there."
Caring for Your Baby
The nursing staff will give you information about your baby's daily progress each time you call or come to Brandon. The doctors are in the nursery 24 hours a day. Feel free to speak with them about your baby and the plans for treatment. The best time to talk with them is during the day.
The length of time your baby needs to stay in Brandon depends most on what kind of illness he/she has. Often, but not always, healthy premature babies will be able to go home close to their due date.
Equipment and Procedures
Following is a list of some of the special equipment and procedures that most babies in the NICU will have.
Your Baby's Bed
The Giraffe Omnibed is a combination of an open bed with a warming device above the baby and an incubator (closed bed) that heats up the air and surfaces around the baby to keep him/her warm. Most babies are admitted to this type of bed and remain on it until they are stable. There are portholes in the sides of the bed to provide access for you and NICU personnel to care for your baby. The top of the Omnibed can be raised automatically to make your baby more accessible. The bed has a probe that attaches to your baby's skin to help monitor temperature. The bed will be kept in the closed position most of the time to provide optimal temperature regulation for your baby.
Babies in the Brandon NICU are monitored by attaching leads which are taped to their chest to keep track of their vital signs (heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation). These monitors are set to alarm if any of the baby's vital signs are outside of the normal range. Sometimes the baby's normal movement or other factors can cause a false alarm. Your baby's nurses are prepared to look at the baby as well as the monitor to determine if something is truly wrong.
Intravenous Lines (IV)
Premature and sick babies, who are not able to take regular feedings for a period of time, will need to receive fluids and nutrition by IV. This may be done using the following:
Many premature and sick full-term babies need help with breathing. This is provided by the following:
Therapeutic hypothermia, or cooling, is a new treatment for babies who are born at or near their due date that we think might have had a brain injury before birth. Many people have heard of icing a joint that is hurt. Even though the brain is more complicated than a joint, cooling can still help reduce the effects of brain injury in some babies. There are two ways to administer therapeutic cooling; selective head cooling or whole body cooling, both of which we use. Selective Head Cooling: The "Cool Cap" or "Brain Cooling" With this treatment, cold water, about the temperature of cold tap water, is piped through a soft plastic cap over the baby's scalp. We do this for 72 hours, from a cooling machine at the bedside. The baby's body temperature is slightly cool, between 93.2° and 95°F (34° 35°C), but the head is cooler than that. Body Cooling is another way to administer therapeutic hypothermia. With this treatment, the baby is placed on a mattress with circulating water for 72 hours. The water is cool to begin with, and then the machine pumping the water automatically controls the water temperature to keep the baby's temperature within the body slightly cool, between 33° and 34° C (91.4° 93.2°F). Body cooling works on the same principal as head cooling.
The ECMO program provides extracorporeal life support for newborns who are experiencing life threatening heart or lung illness. ECMO, which stands for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, is basically heart/lung bypass outside of the operating room. Providing state of the art support, the U of M ECMO Program is the oldest and one of the largest ECMO Programs in the nation. The Program cares for newborns in the NICU in along with the neonatal nurses and physicians. Each patient on ECMO is cared for both by an ECMO Specialist as well as a NICU nurse. The ECMO Specialists are highly skilled nurses and respiratory therapists who are trained in operation of the ECMO circuit and provide complete, patient centered care during a critical time in their hospital stay.
Some babies, both those born prematurely & full-term, need special help to adjust to their new lives. They need different kinds of care than is normally given. Your doctor asked that your baby be admitted to the Brandon Intensive Care Nursery for this special care.