What to Expect in the NICU
- Reduced stimulation – We plan our care times to protect baby’s sleep. It is during deep sleep that babies grow and heal. When awake, handling and movement is minimized to help baby maintain a quiet, organized state and be able to return to sleep as soon as possible.
- Reduced sound and light – In some cases, we keep lights and sounds low to help promote growth.
- Parental involvement – As a parent, you have invaluable information that can be shared with your baby’s care team. We suggest keeping a notebook and pen nearby, so you can take notes on things you feel could help your baby’s care team in the treatment plan. With time, you will become aware of your baby’s cues and be able to collaborate on your baby’s care.
Picking Your Surrogates
In an effort to make sure family-centered care at CHOC embraces more than just baby’s parents and siblings, we have developed a surrogate program so that up to four select people can be with baby when their parents are unavailable. Learn more about our NICU surrogate program.
The bedside report takes place every shift change, so the day and night nurses can exchange information about your baby. Whenever possible, we suggest you take part, so you can be part of the information exchange, learning the latest information from the care team while also supplying your own. The reports take place around 7 a.m. / p.m., so you should plan to be with your baby by 6:45 a.m. / p.m. if you wish to take part.
Having a baby in the NICU can throw your life out of balance. You want to be there for your new baby as much as possible, but the world outside the hospital – and all of your responsibilities within it – is still continuing on a normal schedule.
Taking care of yourself is just as important as spending time with your baby. If you are not ensuring your health and well-being, it is harder to care for someone else’s needs. Here are some tips:
- Ask a friend to relay updates about your baby to others. That way you only have to update one person, and they can forward it on to others while you move on to the next item on your to-do list. There are apps and tools to help with this.
- Ask for help with your other children. Parents will understand and be happy to have a way to provide support. Your family and friends are likely happy to help out in other ways as well. Dog walking, laundry, grocery shopping or meal prep can easily be taken care of by others.
- Take time for yourself. Go for a walk. Go out to dinner. Take a nap. Do what helps you relax or comfortable. Take proper care of yourself after your baby is born.
- Ask for help. You are going through a very difficult time, and being emotional is expected. If you are experiencing what you think may be postpartum depression, or just feel drained or wiped out, talk with your social worker. We can connect you with resources to receive additional support. You are not alone. Learn more about the support services we provide to our families.