Tips for parents who must prepare for a NICU journey
- Expect to be afraid, worried & guilty. Shock & fear are normal. Doubts are normal, so is guilt. But, it’s not your fault!
- Anticipate feelings of helplessness. It’s the worst kind of helplessness you will ever feel, leaving the hospital without your baby after delivery.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Ask about sibling visitation. Before the Covid pandemic, most NICUs allowed fully immunized children to visit their sibling.
- Ask to take a tour of the NICU before delivery if possible.
- Ask to speak directly with any sub-specialists (other than the neonatologist ) who see your baby. This may require an appointment at the bedside.