L.F. asks from Petaluma, CA on February 05, 2012
rPlease Help : Nicu/nursery Experience
I am due in a few months and am trying to prepare myself for the birth of my baby. I am high-risk and my baby is most likely going to need to be admitted into the newborn nursery or the NICU. I am trying to prepare as best as I can. We won't know how or what type of assistance she will need until she is born. Are there any fellow parents that can help ease my mind with the whole process or how to advocate for what we need??
A little background info:
I have to have a c-section
I am going to breastfeed exclusively
I have a very supportive obgyn and medical team that is fully aware of our parenting style/philosophy etc. I am into co-sleeping, ext. breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact, swaddling, comfort care ,homeopathics etc.
My fear is that they will take her away and I won't be able to room with her. I would be devastated if this happened. Obviously, I want the best possible care for my baby and for her to get the treatment she needs. But its that fine line of finding what is best for her and I truely feel 100% that the more bonding and closeness that she has with me is best for her. I don't want her to be whisked away and taken to a cold bassinet where she isn't touched/held except for feeding etc. I am struggling so much with what to expect and how to make sure she is fully supported, comforted and treated medically but that our bonding and time together isn't interrupted or disturbed. Can anyone help?? Anyone been in our shoes? (With my other children, we co-slept the whole hospital stay and they didn't go to the nursery except for the hearing test.)
Thank you so much for reading and any advice you can give!
So What Happened?™
I want to thank each and every one of you for your well wishes and sharing your personal stories. I have read everyone's responses and I am feeling a bit better of what to expect. I am going to call the hospital and get a tour if possible. Thank you so much and i will let you know what happens when she is born~ Take care--- M
G.T. answers from Redding on February 06, 2012
I'd make a point to visit the NICU a few times prior to delivery and get a rapport going with some of the staff so they will be in the know and then recognize you when that time comes.
3 moms found this helpful
❤.M. answers from Los Angeles on February 05, 2012
When my son was born, he had to be in the NICU.
I was able to go & be with him to breastfeed him, hold him etc.
They encouraged it all.
The NICU was on a separate floor.
I would be taken down in a wheelchair by a nurse or by my hubby.
In the NICU is where I would stay w/him until my husband came to stay w/him if I needed to go back to my room to rest. They allowed 1 person at a time to be w/the baby. I would sit outside when his grandparents came to visit him.
I was able to hold him, breastfeed him & have skin-on-skin contact.
His incubated crib was warm & cozy.
I received such care & support from those nurses.
They were amazing, helpful & encouraging.
I don't know that my baby & I have felt quite that cared for since leaving the hospital. :)
I have nothing but wonderful things to say about my experience & those wonderful nurses.
My husband or I would take turns spending all day w/him.
When I was finally released to go home (I had to leave him there for a week.....I was so sad but it turned out to be just fine), we came every day for that week & spent all day at the hospital to be w/my baby!
You will most likely have to wait to co-sleep until your baby comes home from the hospital.
You will be given a little bit of time together after the birth before they take her gently in a nice, warm incubated bed.
They made sure I knew how to breastfeed, swaddle, care for my baby (even making me take a mandatory 3 hour class before being able to be released from the hospital which I thought was great).
I felt comfortable. I did, however, have a hard time leaving him there to go home but as I said we came back imediately the next morning as soon as we were allowed to and spent all day w/my newborn.
I stayed in the hospital for 2 1/2 days before being released.
He is now 3 and is happy & healthy.
I attribute a large portion of this to their care.
Much love sent your way to you & your baby!
5 moms found this helpful
R.J. answers from Seattle on February 06, 2012
NICUs are handled differently. The two best in our area (considered best by healthcare peeps) are Children's & Evergreen (the overflow hospital for Childrens), and I've spent a bunch of time in both. Working at Evergreen, and as a parent of an older kid (PICU, and then medically complex wing...but, of course, made friends with NICU parents, so I was up there a lot. Over 6 months, one gets pretty familiar with the place!).
Both NICUs encourage breastmilk when possible (although neither breastfeeding nor breastmilk is always possible... milk doesn't always come in when parents are stressed or the baby's early, and many infants are on NG tubes).
Both encourage a LOT of skin on skin contact.
Both are staffed with volunteers to make sure that babies without parents present get a lot of touch and affection (pre-nursing students, mostly... it's a rigorous process to be accepted into, volunteering in a nicu).
Neither have 'in room' sleeping... because the NICUs are open floorplan... so that the nurses have eyes on the infants 24/7 and are never more than a few feet away.
I'm not sure about Evergreen, but Childrens has ICU Parent Sleep Rooms just outside the NICU /PICU (also parent laundry, parent break rooms, parent showers, etc. Really, you never HAVE to go home, and many parents from long distances just live in the hospital for a few weeks to over a year. Granted, after the baby is stable enough to leave the NICU, the single and double rooms all have parent beds along the walls, and showers in the room) so you're sleeping 1 foot away.
Both have parent chairs (rocker types) next to the isolettes.
Both train parents to do the majority of the care needed (trach care, NG feedings, breathing treatments, etc.). Parents aren't expected to do these things INSTEAD of the nurses, but they are allowed and encouraged to.
The NICU, more than any other dept, shoes parents out. Not because they don't want them there... but because nervous parents often don't SLEEP. Long term parents take on that role to free up nurses (of getting parents to go get food, go shower, go sleep), but don't be surprised if you're occasionally told to go take care of yourself. Sleep deprived screaming parents in a NICU is a scary thing. That kind of explosion can really hurt infants (causing BP to spike, some crash... others go into breathing attacks)... so when you're asked to go sleep DO GO SLEEP. Or at least lay down with your eyes shut if you feel you can't. The nurses get really good at recognizing the early signs of a parent about to snap, so the screaming tantrums of scared/angry/no-sleep-parents rarely happens... but if a parent doesn't leave when asked... security will come to protect the safety of their own and other's babies by bodily escorting the parent out. And they won't be allowed to return for a period of usually no less than 8 hours, and sometimes 24 hours. I think this is a good thing to know... both to see how seriously infant's emotional and physical well being protected... as well as a heads up. ((Oh. And almost EVERYONE is told to 'go take a break' in a NICU/ PICU/ Children's Hospital from time to time!!! They're kind about it, because they're used to us AND most of the nurses are parents as well. They understand freaked out parents!!! So they're really, really nice about it.))
ALSO... as I'm sure you know... you may have to drop a few ideals / ideas. In the NICU, baby care is individual. They won't swaddle a child who hates swaddling. The won't put a baby on it's back if it's a baby who is prone to aspirating (babies in NICUs sleep every which way, depending on the health needs of that baby. Little monkeys!). They won't exclusively breastfeed if there isn't a suckle reflex (but you and they will be working on getting that reflex going as soon as possible). They will often supplement, because NICU babies don't often have the "wiggle room" to lose a little weight while milk production starts and stablized (but they'll get them transferred onto breastmilk... and there are *great* hospital grade pumps. Sometimes, too, donor milk is a possibility. Depends on your baby and their needs). BUT THEN YOUR BABY STABLIZES, AND YOU GET TO START MEETING GOALS/ DOING THINGS THE WAY YOU LIKE BEST AND YOU GO HOME.
As I've mentioned way up top, though, NICUs are handled differently. I would strongly suggest that you arrange a visit to the NICU... to go see what they're like.
5 moms found this helpful
K.P. answers from Seattle on February 06, 2012
My first daughter was taken to the NICU after she was born. It was completely unexpected. The delivery was fine, no indicators in labor, but she came out and wouldn't breathe. NICU was called and suddenly a swarm of doctors was taking care of her. I was too overwhelmed to be upset. Basically she had too much fluid in her lungs which they had to suction out and help her breath for awhile. The NICU staff was fantastic. My hubby went with our little girl and stayed with her until I could come up. She was breathing on her own later that day, but was in the NICU for a few days for monitoring..as it was such a surprise to everyone, and the Drs wanted to make sure she was okay.
The NICU staff was very supportive of breastfeeding and would call me when I needed to come up. they would set me up in a chair, calling for lactation nurses to come help since it was my first time. Really, they do as much as possible while keeping their medical issues the number one priority. I never felt it was cold or unfeeling. The Nurse I worked with were the most caring for Mom and Baby. No one wants to be there, but in my experience the staff that works there is amazing. I felt like we had so much support and like someone else said - we were so cared for. No, she was not in my room she was in the NICU her entire stay. But she was where she needed to be and I or my hubby was with her just about the whole time. My little girl is now 4 years old and you would never know she had such a dramatic start to her life.
5 moms found this helpful
A.G. answers from Houston on February 06, 2012
Everyone understands and respects where you are coming from as far as everything you want to do for your baby, but the more flexible you are the better you will handle this situation and any other situation that comes with having kids. Don't make this about your baby's emotional health right now, and don't make it about yours either. If you get stressed out about this now, then your body may react aka your milk may stop or you could develop high blood pressure and then you would REALLY have something that will keep you from the baby.
5 moms found this helpful
M.B. answers from Orlando on February 06, 2012
My son was in the NICU for 35 days after he was born. And like another poster mentioned you won't be able to hold them, I didn't for the first 7 days. And the baby won't be able to stay in the room with you. The hardest is leaving the hospital, but you have to remind yourself it's the best for the baby. As far as breastfeeding depending on the issues you might have to pump at first. That's what i did for my son. As for the bonding I had the same fear about my son but i can promise you he's attached at my hip and always have been, just make sure to spend as much time in the NICU as you can. Oh and ASK QUESTIONS! Even if it seems like a dumb one ask anyways, and you can get the direct number to the NICU so when your home you can call anytime and check on your little one. This helped soooo much during my sons stay. Good Luck with your baby and family. You can message me if you want to talk further :)
4 moms found this helpful
C.O. answers from Washington DC on February 06, 2012
Greg was born 6 weeks premature. Our NICU staff was WONDERFUL - they encouraged the kangaroo hold and encouraged me/us to be in there ANY time AFTER we slept. They would get him out of the incubator and set me up in my rocking chair, put a curtain around us and let us be. They would ensure all of his wires were in tact.
He was in the NICU as a precautionary measure. We knew he was going to be early - my due date was 10 May. I went into labor 28 Jan and again on 14 Feb. I was on bed rest until the day he was born. I had been given the steroid shots to help develop his lungs. He had a high bilirubin (liver function) count so he was under the lights.
The NICU staff is, in my opinion, different than the normal nursery staff. You will see they handle the babies with kid gloves but firmly - the first time one picked up my son - I almost flipped a nut! They TEACH you how to handle the baby.
When Nicky was born it was a whole 'nother ball of wax. His first APGAR score was a 2. He was purple. It took them a good 2 minutes to get him to cry - he stopped breathing in front of me - flat lined - I normally don't panic - but I freaked - my son - all of 6 hours old flat lined in front of me the nurses pulled me out of the NICU and LOCKED THE DOOR!! They worked on him - got him back and we were not allowed to hold him for 24 hours. He was stuck in the incubator with tubes sticking out all over his little body and oxygen mask on his face. The doctor told us he was 50/50 - he had pneumonia and a lot of pulmonary issues. We were told he would be there for AT LEAST 6 weeks. We called our Priest and church...he came and said a blessing over Nicky. Our church started a prayer chain. Within 48 hours he was off the ventilator, at 72 hours he was breathing on his own, at day 9 they released him. the power of prayer baby, the power of prayer. The doctors were surprised....
Any way the NICU nurses will be there to help you. They will encourage you, depending upon what is wrong with your child, to hold her, breast feed her. You will be in a room with other parents caring for their infant as well. You will NOT be allowed to co-sleep in the NICU. Our NICU wanted us to get our rest as well. Sleep is SOOOO important.
4 moms found this helpful
L._. answers from San Diego on February 06, 2012
Well you haven't told us what she is going through. But I can tell you that babies that are sick can't have the holding and touching you want to do. Often times when they are being held and touched their oxegyn drops way down. You have to stand back and let them stabelize her first and foremost. They want to hand her over to you. But not until she is okay. You simply have to brace yourself for this.
4 moms found this helpful
J.B. answers from Los Angeles on February 05, 2012
my daughter was in the nicu for a week and i breast fed her. just request that they call you when she needs to be fed. i also pumped for when i went home before she was disscharged. the staff should handle your needs. so as long as she isnt in the nicu till she is disscharged she should be in your room :)
4 moms found this helpful