Tips for parents who must prepare for a NICU journey

  1. Expect to be afraid, worried & guilty. Shock & fear are normal. Doubts are normal, so is guilt. But, it’s not your fault!
  2. Anticipate feelings of helplessness. It’s the worst kind of helplessness you will ever feel, leaving the hospital without your baby after delivery.
  3. Try to express/pump your breastmilk for your baby. It’s something only YOU can do, and provides invaluable support. It’s “ liquid gold” and better for your baby than any medications the doctors have. It’s protects against infection & protects against NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis). Growing on breastmilk improves your baby’s neuro-developmental outcome significantly. Be prepared to pump for several weeks. You will need to get help from the hospital/NICU LC.
  4. Ask questions, lots of questions. It’s common to be overwhelmed & forget what the doctor said. Your nurse can help you decider terms & remember the conversation you just had with the doctor. Write things down. Keep a list of your questions for the doctors’ rounds.
  5. Try not to look things up on the internet. It’s too scary & difficult to know which sources are reliable. In general, postings by medical schools or children’s hospitals can be trusted
  6. Ask about sibling visitation. Before the Covid pandemic, most NICUs allowed fully immunized children to visit their sibling.
  7. Ask to take a tour of the NICU before delivery if possible.
  8. Ask to speak directly with any sub-specialists (other than the neonatologist ) who see your baby. This may require an appointment at the bedside.

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