NICU Baby: The Difficulty of Having a Baby in Need of Critical Care
NICU baby: For most families, a baby’s birth is a joyous occasion that marks a milestone in their lives. Parents anxiously await their release from the hospital while eager siblings fidget at home counting the hours until the arrival of their new baby brother or sister.
Unfortunately, not all families have the luxury to go straight home and settle into their new lives a few days after the birth of their child.
Babies born prematurely or with serious health complications find themselves in neonatal intensive care units – NICUs – before mothers even have the chance to nurse them.
Tips and Tricks to Cope
Having NICU baby is an emotionally and physically draining experience for both the baby and the baby’s family. It is imperative that a family learns how to cope with the stress of the situation for their sake and the sake of their child. Sometimes, small actions and milestones are the only things that can help families overcome such trying times.
Families of a NICU baby have shared tips that helped get them through one of the most difficult times in their lives.
Here are seven tips, tricks, and techniques that can help ease the burden:
1. Find an outlet
Days at the NICU are filled with a spectrum of emotions and loads of stress and uncertainty. Keeping that energy pent up will be detrimental to your mental sanity and deviate your focus from the light at the end of the tunnel.
Each person will have different outlets, you have to find what works for you. Be it what may: Exercising, crying, screaming, writing, meditating, knitting, anything works as long as you’re providing all those emotions with a healthy outlet.
2. Have Your Own Space Away From the NICU
Parents often keep bedside vigil while their baby is in an incubator and basically move into the NICU. It is understandable for parents to want to spend every waking moment with their child, but it is imperative to have your own space, away from the NICU.
Sleep in your own bed, return to your home or hospital room for at least a couple of hours a day. This will make you feel like yourself and give you a chance to regroup and get yourself together.
Resist the urge of moving into the NICU.
3. Ask and Accept Help:
Asking and accepting help is hard sometimes, but there is no shame in asking and accepting help from your support system. Most people understand you are going through an unbelievably hard time and want to help, let them.
Most of your energy will be focused on your newborn, so any outside help takes a burden of off you. Accept rides to the hospital, let family members invite your older children for sleepovers, allow friends to bring you meals and walk your dog.
Having a support system is key.
4. Track and Celebrate Your Baby’s Progress
Being in the NICU day in and day out can make it feel like your baby’s progress is stagnant, day-to-day milestones can often go unnoticed.
Keeping a record of this time in your baby’s life through video, journal entries, pictures, smartphone apps, and more is a great way to notice improvements in your baby’s health.
Celebrate those weight gains and slight improvements, because they make a big difference and will make you realize how far your baby has come.
Food and eating usually go by the wayside when experience such high levels of stress and a wide range of emotions, don’t let it. Make a conscious decision of eating three meals and about two snacks a day.
Nourishing your body with nutritious food is extremely important to keep your energies up, especially if you’re expressing breastmilk.
6. Personalize the Space
With a baby in the NICU you will likely be spending most of your time away from home, so try to create a “home away from home” space and personalize your baby’s area.
You can bring things from home, hang pictures, and display people’s gifts to make your baby’s space feel a little more comforting.
7. Become Educated
Your baby will likely be surrounded by tons of machinery, and you will hear medical terms on the daily, which can become overwhelming and make you feel helpless.
Do your research on your baby’s condition, and above all ask. Don’t be ashamed to ask doctors and nurses what that complex term they just said means.
Advocate for your baby and be up to date with everything that’s being done to them.