Your baby’s bed
Also called an incubator or humidicrib, will be your baby’s home away from home for a little while. It looks a little like a plastic box on wheels. And that is what it is. The clear perspex box at the tops is where your baby will lie. His artificial womb. The bottom of the unit is a storage cupboard for your baby’s needs. In between the two is the mechanics of the unit, the heater and associated items. Your baby will be in an isolette until he is stable enough to hold his own temperature, breath on his own (sometimes with nasal oxygen) and has outgrown the need for drips and monitors.
The top of the isolette is fully enclosed to protect your child from outside elements, the changes in temperature, protection from noise of the nursery and airborne dusts. Your nurse may also place a quilt or blanket over the top to shade your baby from the glare of the ICU.
On all sides you will notice portholes, the ones on either side have doors to open and close. This allows the medical staff and you as parents’ easy access to your baby. If your baby is on Cot Oxygen you will notice two things different about your isolette to other baby’s. First fabric sleeves will be placed over the side portholes so access to the baby is still easy but very little change in oxygen level is noticed when the doors are opened. The second an extra monitor is added to your baby’s array. This one is called an Oxygen Analyser. This monitor measures the amount of oxygen that your baby is breathing in. Normal room air has 21% oxygen.
The front side of the top of the isolette can be unlatched and dropped down so the baby can be taken out for bedding changes, weigh in or the best of all a mummy or daddy cuddle.
The platform, which the baby lays on, can be raised at an angle. The nurses looking after your baby might use rolled nappies to cocoon your baby by placing them close to the body but not usually touching. If your baby needs to be have some time lying on his side the nurses will use the nappy rolls to support him. It is important that your baby’s position is changed regularly to avoid a misshapen skull. So you will notice at most feeds the nurses will change your baby’s lying position. You might end up with a squirming little thing like we did. She kept trying to escape out of the porthole at the bottom of the isolette. Our nurses used a thing blanket rolled into a long thing roll as a seat belt. They would tuck one end in under the mattress, take the roll under her Bottom and then tuck the other end securely under the other side of the mattress. This keeps the baby in place and stops them slipping to the bottom of the cot.
The OPEN COT
There are two types of open cots. The first one is a large square cot raised a fair distance off the floor. It has drop down perspex side to allow easy access to the baby and a radiant heater above it. Babies that need constant medical attention are placed in these cots, as they are easy for the medical staff to attend to the baby’s needs. Because tiny babies have trouble regulating their temperature often you will find this sort of cot covered in Cling Wrap. This is used to help retain the baby’s warmth. The first time you see this you may think it very weird Cling Wrap is traditionally used to wrap lunch in, but it is a very effective tool in the care of these little ones.
The second type of open cot is the type used by most maternity hospitals -a clear perspex cot that sits on a wheeled trolley. This is usually the final step on the trip home for your little one. Most baby’s will go into an open cot when they reach about 1800 grams and are medically stable, no longer requiring help breathing, constant monitoring or drips. The baby who still need a little oxygen can graduate into an open cot with nasal prongs supplying oxygen. It is an exciting day when your baby moves out of the isolette that has been her home since she was born into a open cot. Now its like having a “normal” baby that can be cuddled when you want and bathed every couple of days. It is upsetting to some parents when having finally got their baby into an open cot he takes a backward step and ends up back in a isolette. Be assured that this is a temporary setback, maybe he has picked up some sort of infection or maybe he is still not maintaining his temperature. Some babies have a number of attempts to graduate to an open cot before they finally make it.
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.