When a baby is born and unexpectedly rushed off to the NICU, the parents may find themselves in various stages of shock in a relatively short period. Even those who knew their baby would enter NICU upon birth still find themselves with many questions. When can I see my baby? Will I be able to breastfeed? Who is my baby’s advocate while in the NICU?
Valuable Advice from a NICU Nurse and Mom
Hopefully the hospital staff housing the NICU unit your baby is in will understand your anxiety and get someone to you as soon as possible to explain everything you’ll need to know about the time your newborn will spend in their NICU unit. But if in doubt, keep these few tips in mind to help alleviate the added anxiety of not knowing when you need to know! From a NICU nurse
“As a NICU nurse and NICU mom, here are 3 things I wish every parent knew walking through the doors of the NICU”
Breastfeeding and Pumping – Do the best you can as far as breastfeeding goes. Your nurses and the doctors caring for your baby will hopefully do all they can to accommodate the baby’s breastfeeding opportunities. Your breast milk is one of the most critical things you can do for your baby while they are in the NICU. Even if the baby is too small to breastfeed, they will receive your breast milk through a feeding tube. Be ready to pump and ask available breastfeeding assistants
Take Care of You First – You’re going to learn this one as a parent eventually but as a parent of a newborn in NICU, you need to brush up right away. Because your baby needs you the most right now, you need to make sure you are well-rested, drinking plenty of water and eating healthy foods. It’s critical you keep up your energy and your nutrition since you’ll be (at least trying) to provide breastmilk to your baby to help boost their system as well. You can’t do that if you’re passed out from never stopping to rest. Lastly, talk to other NICU parents. No one knows the NICU journey better than parents who are going through it or have been through it in the recent past. Talk to them. Take advice. Ask those questions you need answers to. Lean on them and lean on your family to get you through.
Don’t Hesitate to Speak up for Your Baby – While you might feel you are the newbie here and all activity is best left up to the doctors and nurses suggestions, you know your baby better than anyone there. (even though he or she just arrived) You are a critical part of your newborn’s care team and if you have questions or concerns, speak up! Ask those questions. Inquire about alternatives. You are your baby’s voice!