NICU TIPS

First off I want to say congratulations on your new baby. Secondly, mom you did everything your body could do to carry the baby full term. Do not blame yourself or think that you could have done anything to change the outcome (if you practiced healthy pregnancy activities). You and your body did the best job it could so now, with the help of the NICU, the baby will continue to grow and become healthy enough to come home really soon. Below are some tips that I put together from my experience with the NICU.

These tips are to help ease your mind and heart and are not medical advice. Continue to discuss everything with your doctor and nurse staff before making any changes for the baby.
Let’s start….

Pregnancy

I was put on hospital bed rest during my 32nd week. I was so upset because I watched my weight, exercised, took all my vitamins but still ended up with preeclampsia with my twins. My son was born 2 pound 8 oz. and couldn’t breathe, suck, or swallow on his own. He had to gain weight (up to 4-5 pounds) and learn to breather, suck, before he could come home. Here are some highlights that I remember that helped me while on hospital bed rest:

• If you have a history or risk of preeclampsia- prepare a “bed rest” bag just in case. Include movies, snacks, plenty of underwear, books, note book, pens, snacks, nail polish, and anything that will make you happy.

• Take notes- write down the nurses name during their shifts, questions that run through your head while you are laying around, medications, what food you want your husband to bring, ex…lol.

• Ask someone to bring thank-you-notes. You will have that special person or nurse that you bond with during this time. Remember to jot down a little note to say thanks. Nurses do a lot and appreciate when someone says thank you. By the way, you need nurses. So showing thanks goes a long way especially when you ask for extra ice cream in the middle of the night.

Delivery

If you deliver a baby underweight or with any medical issues they most likely will be in the NICU. It is okay. That is the best place for them at this time. I know that sounds horrible but it is the truth. Breathe and remember NICU staff (doctors and nurses) are highly trained and special people to do the job they do. Your baby is in good hands.
I remember after delivery was a world wind. I was on heavy magnesium, they put me to sleep in the middle of the delivery so I didn’t even see both twins. Waking up from the surgery was not fun either. Here are some things I went through personally and with the baby that I feel it is important to highlight for this tip sheet:

Mom after delivery:

• If you are on magnesium you might experience some of the nasty side effects- one big one for me was memory loss. My family did not understand that I could not remember anything. I couldn’t even spell my own name for a few days after I delivered. It is a very strong drug and the side effects last a while; please have your family read up on all the medication and what could happen. Have someone write everything down for you. And keep in contact with your doctor, let them know how you are feeling.

• Take pictures- Yes you are a new mom, and the delivery is not what you thought it would be. The nervousness and stress of everything will overcome you. It did to me. But take pictures. LOTS and LOTS of pictures. It helps. It helps with the memory loss and it helps to distress.

• Ask about a Parent Room- when you baby is in the NICU they are being charged for an additional room in the hospital…along with separate NICU charges. Because of that, some hospitals allow parents to stay in an extra empty room if there child is going to be there for a while. This was a life saver for me. We actually lived in the hospital for an entire 3 weeks after delivery. I stayed directly across the hall from my son during his stay. Also look into the Ronald McDonald House and other Hospital hotels that offer a discount so you don’t have to drive back and forth

• Request a meal-train from your local church or friends. You are not going to have time to cook and people want to help. Have a list of the meals you like to eat and let people cook for you.

• Accept company- It is very hard during this time to accept company because all you are doing is thinking about the baby. But have a buddy with you to do your hair or even your nails. You are still a new mom and allow people to pamper you.

• Financial concerns- this is a BIG worry but DO NOT worry about it at the time. Let the doctors do what they have to do. After everything is said and done, ask the hospital for financial assistance. All hospitals have the option and give people and application to apply for financial assistance where they would pay some or ALL of the bill. Just ask.

The Baby post delivery:

• The tubes- do not be afraid of the tubes and machines. Remember they are there to help the baby. They are scary but they are important. One thing we found out is they have different tubes with different expiration times. Some tubes require to come out every day and some once a week. We requested the once a week ones because my son HATED the tube changing process. With him being so upset during the changing, he actually wouldn’t nurse and then lose weight. We didn’t want that! He needed to gain weight not loose. So just ask what kind of tubes they have in and ask if there is a different option

• Breast Banked Milk- In case your milk has not come down yet, look into the breast banked milk. It is perfectly safe and has to go through a medical sanitation company to make sure it is safe and healthy. I had twins and on medication so I did not produce enough milk for my son. We used breast banked milk the entire time he was in the NICU and it was the best thing for him. The more breast milk the better.

• Write down your contact info for the NICU nurses. Now they have this information in the computer, but just in case of an emergency, give them an index card with your info on it and what time you will be back to the hospital. My NICU loved that and called me all the time when I was away. It really helped them to have easy access to my information at the nurse’s desk.

• Keep an open line of communication at all times- this is important. You cannot do this alone. Make sure your spouse is involved and knows how you are feeling. It is a stressful time and tension might arise. You want everyone to be as calm as possible.

• Sing and read to your baby- even though he is tiny and still in growing stage he knowns his mama and needs to hear his mama. Once we started to read, sing, and encourage him on he started to gain weight! My husband would sit there all night and say “Come on Raven…you can do it son”. When he nursed the first time he got frustrated (as most babies do) and tried to give up, we started to chant “Raven, Raven, Raven you can do it buddy” and you could see his little body change and he did! To this day we chant “Raven, Raven, Raven” lol

• Take pictures- at first we weren’t but we threw that out and took all the pictures of our little bean. Tubes and all. He would want to see his journey and where he came from. And there is no shame in this! Mom you did the best your body could! Show off your baby (if you feel comfortable).

~ AW