"We spent time holding Emily skin-to-skin — Kangaroo Care."
Parenting Your NICU Baby
We recognize that each family is unique and it is the goal of the Brandon NICU to help families cope with their specific challenges and go home united as a family.
The birth of a baby is both an exciting and scary time. Have a baby admitted to the NICU because he or she has been born early or has special needs adds layers of fear, anger, and disappointment for parents and family.
What are Some Common Parent Feelings?
There is no right or wrong way to feel or act as a parent. Some cry a lot, some focus on the monitors, others come all the time, and some make short visits. Each parent has a unique response to his or her baby. Here are some of the feelings that families share:
These emotions come and go, vary in intensity, or may not appear at all - all of which is OK. Slowly, families begin to adjust and settle into a routine, and eventually move towards accepting their value and role as a parent of an infant in the NICU.
Support Along the Way
As the parent, you are the consistent caregiver who brings comfort and consistency to your baby when the staff changes at each shift. Recognizing, appreciating, and believing in the essential function of your role as a parent will help your baby bond, grow and eventually go home with you. To do this, whether you are here for a week or for months, you will need support along the way.
Throughout this time, it is important to eat, rest, get fresh air, and communicate your needs with your partner, family, friends, and medical staff. Remember that by taking care of yourself, you are taking care of your baby. It is important to give yourself time and space to work through the natural grief associated with a stay in the NICU It is also important to take care of the details of your life Ñ children pets, work, activities, home - that need your attention.
Family and Friends
It is also important to use the help your friends and neighbors offer or to ask them for help. They are very concerned, but are equally frustrated in not knowing what to do or even what to say. People usually want to be supportive, but don't know how. You might have to be specific about what would be helpful to you: please prepare a meal, baby-sit the older kids, or get the dog out of the house for a walk. There is a printed card available that you can hand to your friends and family that lists a number of possibilities for them to help. The clerks at the front desk can help you find that.
It is also OK to say no when friends and family want to visit the baby. It is up to you who are allowed to come to the bedside.
Important Points to Remember
Most parents of previously admitted NICU infants agree on several fundamental points and offer some advice for successful parenting of an NICU infant. These include:
And most of all, congratulations on your baby's arrival!
Note: We would like to thank the Children's Hospital at Providence in Anchorage, Alaska for the opportunity to adapt this document for our use.
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.