The NICU – Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
Walking into the NICU the very first time is like walking into a totally different world. This is a world that most people never imagine exists. The world of tiny tiny babies attached to big machines, which help keep them alive. It’s a world of tears and triumphs. This one is just beginning his struggle for life born too many weeks early. This little miracle is rooming in with mum tonight after 110 days in the nurseries; she is ready to finally go home. And there is always the chance that one of these little fighters won’t make that final trip home. Our angel babies, those born too early, too small or too sick to survive. It truly is a different world.
Hopefully you will have the opportunity before your baby is born to be shown into this world. If you are lucky enough to have some warning that your precious one will come into this world early. But for most of us we head into this world to visit our newborn baby. She may be only hours old or maybe it’s been a couple of days since he was born but you have been in another hospital or too ill to make the journey.
The first time you step into a NICU you will probably be overwhelmed by the unit. The first real glimpses of your baby, so small and so fragile looking attached to monitors and machines that far outsize him. My first visit with Sarah was 14 hours after she was born; I was wheeled hospital bed and all into the NICU. I remember just staring at this tiny thing inside the isolet and praying that she would survive. I was stunned that this tiny little thing was my daughter. And around us the monitors would beep and buzz and alarms would go off.
Just remember this is your baby. Ask any and all the questions you can think of. Ask what each piece of machinery does. What is this drip, what is that drip for. Ask for explanations about your baby’s charts. Ask and learn about this New World. Learn how to do the little things for your baby. Even if it is only holding the feeding tube while the milk runs into you baby’s stomach. Take on the role of doing the cares- changing the nappy, wiping their eyes and mouth. Learn how to position your baby. Ask if your hospital allows Kangaroo cares for babies the size of yours. Just spend time with your baby. Remember to take notes, How much you baby weighs, how much she is milk she is taking, what it felt like to hold him for the first time. Check out our creating the memory page for some ideas. Take lots of photos. Your baby is changing every day. And photos although hard to look at first allow you to look back and be amazed at how far he has come. And in years to come, she can understand just how small she was. Have a look at our Photo Suggestions Page. Use of Digital Camera’s make taking photos of our little ones so easy. Remember the memories that you capture are priceless.
The other pages in this section will help you to understand some of the things and people you will encounter in the NICU and Special Care Nursery.
The primary aim of PIPA is to provide practical and emotional support to the parents and families of premature infants. However we do not offer professional advice. We are parents of preterm baby’s and not medical staff. We do offer understanding, support, encouragement and friendship.