In a report, nearly 13% of babies born in the US are preterm or have low birth weight and hence 10-15% of all newborns are referred to a special wing in the hospital for intensive care. When you have a pre-term delivery, your stress and anxiety levels are obvious to rise. Not only has the baby come too early for you to be thoroughly prepared, but your little angel has to be kept under intense observations till it is safe for you to take him home.
What is a NICU and why your baby may need it
When a baby is born pre-term (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or has low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds) or if the doctors find anything medically wrong with the baby, doctors may choose to send the baby to NICU.
The newborn intensive care unit (NICU) is a unit of the hospital that combines advances in technology with specially trained professionals dedicated in the field of providing health care to infants and newborns. Understanding that your baby is in safe hands is an important step towards coping with the stress.
Allow yourself to be overwhelmed
The trauma of being helplessly separated from your baby is tough, add to it the sights and sounds of the heavy machinery that operate inside NICU, the other patients, and the medical procedures your child might potentially need. All these can be overwhelming and you need to allow yourself to let your feelings flow and not bottle them up inside.
Form a routine and some new bonds
Create a set pattern so you can devote time to yourself, your work, home and off course visiting your baby. Remember to create a schedule so that you can devote maximum time to being with your baby. While your baby stays at a NICU you can talk to the other parents and interact with the nurses too. Sharing your feelings of fear with others in an informal way or in a support group can reduce the stress a lot.
Nursing and cuddling your baby
Breastfeeding is strongly encouraged in NICUs so try to be there regularly on feeding times. If your baby is too weak to suck or swallow, you should use a pump and feed the milk to your little one through a feeding tube. Though initially you may not be allowed to touch your baby due to medical reasons, once your baby is strong enough to be held outside the incubator you can cuddle with the little angel. This kangaroo effect of skin-to-skin contact has proven to be very beneficial in healing.
Watching your newborn in a little glass incubator, attached with machines is every mother’s worst nightmare. But, parents have to understand that intensive care is being provided to their child and try coping with the situation step by step.