Nicu

Updated on July 26, 2011
T.B. asks from Rocklin, CA
22 answers

Hi all! I am 27-weeks pregnant and, unfortunately, this pregnancy is not going as smoothly as my other two. My baby, whether he goes full-term or not, will have to spend an indeterminate amount of time in the NICU when he's born. With my other two children, I "roomed-in" at the hospital and co-slept at home. I also breastfed them, which I was planning to do with this one as well. I just don't know what to expect and am worried if this will affect our ability to bond with and breastfeed our baby. I can't imagine going home without him, but have two other kids to take care of! If you have experience with this, I'd appreciate hearing from you. Thanks.

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E.B.

answers from Sacramento on

I am so sorry that you will have to experience this. My twin girls were born at 26 weeks. One was in the NICU for 2 months, the other for 6 months. I spent the days in the NICU and my husband spent the nights. It was much tougher when one came home and the other stayed in the NICU. We were blessed to have friends and family who came to watch the first baby at home so we could either go to the NICU or sleep. Our girls were at the Sutter Memorial Hospital NICU.

Here are my suggestions: Try to tour the NICU now so that you can see what it is like and ask questions. For example, I was able to breast pump and then bring the milk in. The NICU froze the milk until the girls were able to use it. Find out how soon you can hold the baby. Tell the nurses that you and your husband want to do as much as possible in the NICU. As soon as we could, we were bathing the girls, helping with the vitals signs, and the bottle feedings. We worked with the nurses so they knew that we wanted to be very involved with the girls. Find out if you can request primary nurse. For us, there were four nurses who always had the girls so we were able to establish a relationship with them which helped us. And, start lining up friends and family to watch your two older boys. If someone offers to help, ACCEPT it! Whether it be babysitting, bringing food or doing your laundry. It will be a stressful time for you and your husband so accept offers of help. The more help you have, the more sleep you will get, the more time you can spend at the NICU.

Good luck and please feel free to email me if I can answer any questions.

2 moms found this helpful
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W.M.

answers from Sacramento on

My second and third children were both going to be preterm. I spent 5 weeks on bed rest, and another 3 in the hospital until I reached 33 weeks for delivery. Our problem was with her older sister. She got used to being with grandma and daddy and did not want mommy. She seemed to have resentment towards me. We did not have to go thru the NICU experience, thankfully. Try to reduce you stress any way you can. With our third child I would politely tell people I could not talk to them if I started to get wound up. I would start having contractions, so I basically kept to myself, and he went full term. I hope all goes well with your baby.

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B.S.

answers from Sacramento on

I have been where you are. I went into early labor and spent a week in the hospital before my daughter was born. I had two boys at home who were missing me, as well as my husband who had to do more than ever to take care of our family. My daughter then spent 12 days in the NICU. I had to run back and forth the the hospital to spend time with my new daughter, while taking care of my two boys at home. Luckily one child was in school and the other in daycare, so I was able to spend more time at the hospital during the day, and my husband would go for a visit at night. We tried to be there for every feeding, but it really takes its toll on you, especially when you are also recovering from giving birth. All I can say is that you do get through it. And I don't know if it from this experience, but my daughter is more independent than the boys are.

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J.F.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi T.,
I just want to share with you that my baby was perfectly healthy and full term, but had to go to NICU after having "seizures" because I could barely breastfeed her after having a complicated delivery and severe high blood pressure. My doula at the time told me not to let them give her formula, so she was starving. How guilty did I feel?? What ended up happening is that I would pump in my room and bring it to her and bottle feed, or breastfeed if I could. I would feel so sad to leave her little self lying in that bed, but I had to. When we got home, I had round the clock care because I was too ill to care for her. I felt so sad and guilty, I wanted to be there with her, but time went by. And you know what? a year and two months later, we're very close, and our bond is very strong.
I do not believe that your bond is damaged forever if you are away from your child at the beginning. I have many friends who have adopted babies at 9 months, a year old who are extremely bonded with their children.
Just know that it's being there for the long haul that counts, and you sound like a very caring, loving mommy. I am sure you'll give your baby what he needs.
Warm wishes for many happy moments with your new little one.
J.

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H.S.

answers from San Francisco on

My son was born at 32 weeks, and was in the nicu for 18 days. I was unable to breastfeed him because they would not let him out of his "incubator" for the first 10 days. Now... my son never did take to breastfeeding after that. The bottles they feed them from have nipples that are way too small to be the same as a woman's nipple, but now that he's 4 years old, I can definitely say there was no problems with us bonding. We are so very close and have been. I spent as much as I could with him at the hospital, but truth be told, it wasn't a whole lot. We didn't have his nursery done yet, as we were not expecting him so early, so I still had a lot of work to do at home. So I went to the hospital twice a day, but I could never be very close to him since he was confined and hooked up with lots of tubes and stuff, but he is my absolute darling. I too was worried about us not bonding, but like I said before, I don't think being there at the beginning has anything to do with anything. I think the life you give that child afterward and while you're with them, is what affects the relationship you will have with him/her. So don't worry, and just enjoy your family!

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M.F.

answers from Stockton on

I am sorry to hear this. My first was born a preemie and I wasn't allowed to room with her nor hold her until she was a week old. I had to leave her at the hospital as well. To be honest it was tough. I cried so much. When I wasn't at the hospital I was always calling and checking on her. My response to you is just stay strong. I wasn't able to breastfeed her, but I pumped and brought my milk to the hospital every day so that they had something to feed her. As far as bonding goes, it was still great. She is now 3 and the best cuddler. I do want to warn you though that they wake them up every three hours to feed and change. My daughter got on this schedule and would wake up every three hours for a very long time. Nobody warned me about this. If you need to talk, please message me.

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E.O.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi T. -

My daughter (second child) had to spend the first 3 1/2 weeks of her life at Lucille Packard Children's Hospital, a good portion of that in the NICU. She had heart surgery and so she was intubated for the first 1 1/2 weeks or so. I too was woried about the bonding and breastfeeding issues. And all that worry was for nothing. My now 21 month old daughter is sooooo attached to me I can hardly leave the room for 2 seconds without hearing "mama mama mama!" We actually stayed an extra week in the hospital to work on breastfeeding. It was really rough in the beginning and took a lot of hard work. We even had to come home with an NG tube (fed her through her nose). But after about a week at home, where she was much more relaxed, the feeding thing all fell in to place and within a couple of weeks she LOVED to nurse. I recommend getting hooked up with a breastfeediing specialist at the hospital early and keep at it. I'm sorry you have to have a less than ideal welcoming of your son into the world, but you'll get through it. Line up lots of help NOW -- if you can. Lots of friends will want to help but not know how. Let them watch your other two kids for several hours. Perhaps even plan a schedule. You will want to be with your baby as much as you can and it's nice if you've taken some of the logistical issues away. Best of luck.

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M.E.

answers from San Francisco on

My oldest daughter was born at 27 weeks and spent a bit of time there. In regards to bonding they have serveral ways to bond with your child. I used to sit with my hand on her, talk and sing to her. They also have the Kangaroo program where you hold them skin to skin. Many NICU babys are breast feed and if not they are given breast milk that you can pump. Your nurse have done this for a long time and understand what you are going through and will help you adapt to NICU life. Make sure you tell your nurses your worries and they can offer you suggestions. The NICU is different from any other ICU program as they allow parents to be in there 24/7 with there child so you wont have to worry about not being there for your child.

My daughter is 12 and we have an incrediable bond. YOu will be amazed at the bond you have with a child that has been in NICU. As much as I love my other children my NICU miracle baby and I are tighter and more connected through what we both went through.

Hope all goes well. Please remember to take care of yourself so that you will be healthy and able to take care of you and all your children while going through this journey.

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C.S.

answers from Dallas on

Hi! I spent almost 2 months in the hospital before having my little girl at 25 weeks pregnant. She weighed only 1lb 13 oz. She spent 17 weeks in the NICU. It was very difficult at first but you get into a routine. The NICU nurses and Doctors were wonderful. They all encourage bonding. They let me hold her as soon as she was up to it. I did "kangaroo care" (holding her against my bare chest) atleast once a day for as long as she could handle it. I had a breast pump and she she was fed my breast milk through a feeding tube until she was able to breast feed on her own. I breast fed her right at her crib in the NICU with a privacy screen. The nurses are very encouraging and helpful through this process. It's not like having her at home but all things considered, it wasn't that bad. Now my daughter is a very healthy 2 year old that weighs 30 lbs!

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H.J.

answers from San Francisco on

My little girl was a month early, because I was in a car accident, & ended up spending 6 days in the NICU because her lungs were immature. My biggest suggestion would be to get a GOOD breastpump (sometimes, you can rent the nice ones from the hospital) & do everything possible to make sure the pumping is working well & your baby has plenty of your milk on hand. Be loud and strong about the fact that you want your baby to have your milk as soon as she can eat in the normal fashion, and be there as often as you can to giver her the actual breast, too--even if she gets most of her nourishment at first from a bottle of your milk. As much as possible, get others to take care of your older kids, so that you can spend as much time at the NICU as possible. When you get the new baby home, co-sleep and breastfeed.
Get a good sling, if you don't have one already, and wear your little one at the hospital as much as turns out to be possible. Leave her something in her bassinet that smells like Mama, too.
My little girl, even with 6 days in the NICU, has never had any formula, and had NO problem adjusting to co-sleeping. We didn't get breastfeeding established well in the hospital, due to her needing to be under the jaundice lights, so it was a bit of a rocky start at home--but it worked, she's still nursing at 21 months, and this isn't your first baby, so that shouldn't be quite so hard for you.
The biggest thing to remember: YOU are the Mama. YOU know what's best for your baby. YOU get the info and make the decisions. Hospital people can be wonderful...but they are NOT going to have your child's best interests at heart as thoroughly as you will.
Tune into your local LaLeche League for more advice on the breastfeeding part--they'll know more than I do.

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S.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi T.,

Breastfeeding is only one way to bond with your child....thankfully! Your warmth, touch, love, optimisim, happiness, energy is much more powerful than just nutrition. Don't get me wrong, breastfeeding is a rewarding feeling and a connection, but if it's not possible, focus on what you can do and make the most of it! Also, focus on your baby going full term, and if any, will only need a few days in NICU. It sounds hippy dippy, but our thoughts become our reality, so make them strong and purposeful.

Here's to your strong healthy full-term baby!

S.

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E.A.

answers from New York on

T.,

I was in a similar situation. My first two pregnancies were normal and I roomed in and breastfed right away. They only left for their newborn screening tests. With my third we knew that he was going to have health issues that would require care in the NICU. I can tell you with complete confidence that it WILL NOT prevent you from bonding with this baby just like you did with your other children.

I was fortunate that we were able to meet with the NICU doctors and tour the NICU before our baby arrived. This was great because most people who find themselves in the NICU are terrified and have no idea what to expect. For us, it was great that we had seen the area, had an idea of it was like in the NICU, had seen where he would be and met the nurses. This was very reassuring for me since I ended up having an emergency C-Section and wan't able to visit him in the NICU right away while I was on a catheter. I wasn't able to hold him or feed him for several days and was actually released before I got to hold him. I waited around the hospital so I could hold him before I left and I was fortunate that we live near the hospital and was able to go back and forth a few times a day and drop off pumped milk. He was ona feeding tube at first then bottle fed with my breastmilk. It was a little harder to teach him to nurse (my others were like hoovers) but he got it.

I had a 4 year old and a 25 month old at home and they were dying to meet their brother. I was able to have family and friends pitch in and keep them busy and cared for while I ran back and forth.

We were very lucky and our son ended up being born much healthier than we ever could have hoped. He was 5 weeks early and while he needed help breathing and had a few other issues he as a real fighter and was ready to come home in just a week. He's now 2 and a half and I can barely keep up with him! He's my miracle. I wish you all the best and please know that your instincts as a mother will not be dampened or changed beause this birth isn't the same as the other times. We went through a lot with his pregnancy and the only time that I really lost it was when they told me that I had to have a C-Section and he had to go to the NICU for his safety. I didn't really care how he was getting out it was just that at that moment it became real that this birth and this child were going to be different and I needed to figure out how to handle that.

I had a hard time in the NICU because I didn't know what to do with myself there. My husband was better there than I was--more relaxed. Eventually once I was able to hold him, change him and feed him it all felt right.

The one thing that I would suggest is that you DEMAND a private room after your baby is born. I was put in with a first time mother and it was hard for both of us. It was awkward for her since there was no baby in with me and she knew something was up but didn't want to ask and it was hard for me since she had a million visitors and every time her baby cried my milk ran all over. I did get moved and my other kids came to see me and it all got better.

You will be just fine and if you ever want to chat please feel free to email me at [email protected]____.com.

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M.F.

answers from Modesto on

My twins were in the NICU for nearly 3 weeks. I held one the same day as the birth, but the other I had to wait several days. I used a breast pump and when the babies were able to bottle feed they were given breast milk. When they came home I found it so difficult to breastfeed. I already had a 2 year old son whom I had successfully breast fed for over a year and I really wanted to repeat the experience. I had a hard time bonding with the babies for several weeks. I couldn't get them to nurse for another month. In fact, I had basically given up, but one night I was tired and didn't want to get up and prepare bottles. I was surprised that both babies actually latched on! THey are still breast fed at 16 months. It took longer to bond for me, but it happened and I can't imagine life without them. Don't worry too much and when your baby is born just take it day to day. Eventually you and your family will figure out what works best. I hope for the best for you and your baby.

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M.K.

answers from Chico on

I haven't had this experience, but just a reminder that every child is different and will respond to the love and nurturing you give. He will not love you less or bond with less strength and passion just because his experience differs from your older children. As far as breastfeeding, I suppose it partly depends on his ability to latch on and such, and you r ability to maintain production through the stress of it all. My sister-in -law was able to stay at the nicu with her daughter and pump on a schedule, but the baby was her only child at the time. I hope you will not beat yourself up if you are unable to breastfeed and/or co-sleep. It is OK to adapt your expectations to the situation without guilt, and your little ones will all need you! Best wishes to you and your family.

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L.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi T.,

My first born was 3 weeks early and spent 9 days in NICU. The time you are able to spend visiting your baby in the NICU is important. Also, whenever you visit, touch your baby, and sing/talk your infant. The human touch is vital for a baby's growth, health and development. To this day, my oldest son who is now 23, loves to have a backrub from me. This is what I did a great deal when he was in the NICU. I could not hold him in those early days of his birth, so rubbing his little back was the best way I could be close to him.

I wish you well. I know all the equipment and atmosphere of the NICU is unknown and scarey. But remember all the medical staff in that department are highly skilled and experienced. My oldest son was born at Good Samaritan. The staff there in 1985, welcomed my husband and I to visit Jordan often. They only asked us not to come in, during a shift change. We visited him often but I witnessed many infants that had no visitors. That broke my heart.

Hope that all turns out well for you and your new baby.

If you never prayed before, now is the time to start. I believe the power of prayer is what prompted my son, to make a rapid improvement in his premature condition. I asked the doctors why he was suddenly doing so much better, but even they did not know why. But we did, God had answered our prayers.

May God be close to you in the coming weeks and months.

L.

G.K.

answers from San Francisco on

I'm so sorry that you'll have to go through this experience, but take heart... This should have NO impact on your ability to bond OR breastfeed! In fact, your milk will be one of the best things you can give your baby while he/she is in the NICU! You need to talk to the NICU nurses about their policies, etc, but you'll be able to pump and bring the milk for your baby. The hospital may have a hospital-grade pump for you to rent (which is what I would recommend because you'll be exlusively pumping). As long as you're pumping, you'll have a great milk supply for when your baby is able to be put to the breast. It may be a little challenging in the beginning because your baby will be used to the bottle, but there are a few different ways that you can smoothly transition from bottle to breast.

I'm a peer counselor with Nursing Mothers Counsel, and this kind of situation is one that we can help you with and through. If you'd like a one-on-one counselor, feel free to email me at [email protected]____.com or you can call the Nursing Mothers Counsel hotline at (650) 327-MILK, and they can assign you to someone. We can help with all situations, and if we think it's out of our scope, we'll suggest you see a lactation consultant for hands-on help, which probbly wouldn't be a bad idea. That's another question you may want to ask the hospital staff: do they have a lactation consultant that you can see and work with right away?

I'm glad you're thinking ahead, and it's awesome that you want to breastfeed!!

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K.I.

answers from San Francisco on

Ny son was full term and spent time in the NICU. I was able to breast feed and hold him as long as he stayed warm and hooked up to all the cords. I also pumped and we were able to bottle feed him with it. Just tell your nurse adamently that you want to hold him and feed him. They are usually more than acommidating and even encourage it. We are very close and bonding did happen.

K.

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T.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Ok, just had to respond as my name is T. also~! And, my first son was born at 28 weeks! He weighed 2 lbs 13 oz. and stayed in the NICU for 2 months. He is now a 75lb. tall 9 yr. old, very sharp and well adjusted 3rd grader!
As he was my first, I did not find it all that difficult, mostly perhaps because I knew nothing different. They rented me a breast pump (industrial strength!) and I would set my alarm to get up and pump, then bring it in to the NICU each day in a cooler. What's really nice is they had a video monitor for which they gave me a unit to have at home where I could view him just about anytime I wanted (really helped while pumping). I think we bonded (dad too) almost more to him because of his size and miraculous survival.
I did find it easiest to wait to go to the NICU with my husband in the evening - found it kinda emotional (and hard to ever leave) being there without his support.
Most of the nurses were wonderful and became almost like family. Our son did end up having several surgeries for various reasons (I am happy to share if you would like - just let me know) but I think he is a stronger and more adaptable individual for it.
Hope this helps....W/B if you want~
T.

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N.C.

answers from Sacramento on

It won't affect your ability to bond, for some mom's bonding doesn't happen til later, once they are home from the hospital. (That is how it was for me, I just didn't feel that connection til I was in my own home) The nicu staff will give you, pending on the health of your baby, every opportunity to breastfeed. I wouldn't dwell on it, it will be fine and your child will love you and bond with you regardless. Take care of yourself and I wish you a wonderful and healthy baby. Take care

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K.V.

answers from San Francisco on

Our first son was born 5 weeks early & spent 6 days in the NICU. It in no way hindered any bonding we had w/him. We'd get there by 9ish in the mornng & stayed til, geeze, I don't when. Since you already have 2 other kids, this may be a juggling act, but you can make it work. Do yo have anybody, family, friend, or babysitter, who can stay w/the other 2 while you're at the hospital for the birth & NICU time? Utilize any time your husband has off to the fullest. Check about visiting hours w/the NICU, as well. I don't think we were ever told that it was time for us to go home, we stayed pretty late, I think, & left when we were tired. We held our son all the time, fed him, & did all the other typical stuff you do w/a newborn. I tried nursing but he & I were just never very good at that so mostly, he got bottles. This way, Daddy could fed him, too. I'm gonna be honest here, leaving that hospital w/o him was by far the hardest thing I ever done. Especially since we tried for 3.5 yrs to have him. It will be hard for you, too. Just stay postive, make the most of that time together there & know that he will come home soon to his wonderful family. Best of luck!

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J.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi T., and sorry you have to go through this, but cuddos on trying to prepare beforehands. We were in a similar situation with our daughter. She wasn't in NICU, but i got discharged from the hospital after 2 days, and she stayed there on antibiotics IV for 3 more days. What we did, we reserved a hotel room 1 mile away from the hospital...I pumped every 3 hrs both night/day, and my husband would bring it for our daughter, so nurses could feed her milk. The important part is pump, pump, pump..from the moment she's born, every 2-3 hrs...and either leave it all in the hospital or have someone run it over there...What happened to us, because i didn't start pumping right away, my milk only came in on day 4...but because our daughter was on antibiotics doctors had to start feeding her formula because there wasn't enough milk...Luckily, she only had formula for 1 day. May be ask someone else to take care of your other children. Visit your baby as often as you can, and breasfeed her every chance you get. Also, some hospitals *i know Stanford does*, has a room in the nursery where you can spend a night.

G'Luck,
-J.

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J.K.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi T.~

My heart goes out to you... this is such a tough thing to go through. Our second child was born 2 and half months early and spent 2 weeks in Sutter NICU. It was very hard leaving him in the hospital, especially after my first child's delivery was so easy and beautiful. I worried too about how well I would bond with our son and how the hospital stay would impact our connection.

My best advice is to try to visit him as often as you can... breast feed him and hold him skin to skin as much as possible. Pump to keep your milk supply up and have them give it to him in the hospital. I believe that most hospitals know the value of breast milk, especially for preemies, and they encourage this.

For your other children... try to keep their routine and life as much on track as possible.

If it helps... the staff at Sutter was fabulous in each of the units our son was on. They let us come in whenever we wanted... stay at long as we wanted and were kind and informative when I called at 3 in the morning because I was up pumping and thinking of my son.

I wish I had other advice for you. So much will depend on his health and your individual circumstance. In our case, David's rocky beginning did not affect our connection to him. I am as close to him as my daughter and in fact, maybe have a special sort of closeness. He did have some large motor problems in the beginning and we worked with the early intervention team and did physical therapy with him. He is now 3 and completely caught up developmentally and physically. He is funny and smart and beautiful...

Bets wishes and blessings to you and your family.

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