Friday, March 17, 2023

How you can participate in the care of your baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

New experience in the neonatal intensive care unit:

During your first few days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), you may feel like an ill-disposed passenger on a trip you never planned to take. He will notice that the nurses provide all the care for his baby, handling complicated pumps, administering medications, changing diapers, adjusting the blankets, among many other things. Many parents wonder how they can "be" parents at times like these, when they don't do the "things" that parents usually do for their babies.

Meeting the routine care needs of an infant:

As you become more familiar with your baby's care and preferences, you will begin to address these routine care needs as well. Changing your baby's diaper, taking his temperature, tucking in blankets, changing his clothes, and giving him a bath are skills you will learn. Let your nurse know when you are ready to start learning how to care for these care needs.

Nurses' participation in care:

Some parents fear that asking to be involved in their baby's care will “get in the way” of the nurse. Remember that you are the father of the baby. Your baby will come home with you, not with the nurses. You can be sure that most nurses are eager to help you become “the expert” in your baby's care. Sometimes participation is simply about “being there”.
Ask about your baby's schedule, particularly when they feed and when your baby is most awake.

Procedures for attending an operation in the care room:

Some NICUs allow parents to be present during certain procedures (IV access, peripherally inserted central catheter placement, intubation). If you want to be present during a procedure, please let your baby's nurse or another member of the care team know. If you stay in your baby's room during a procedure, you may be asked to wear a mask or hair cap to help prevent infection. If you begin to feel dizzy, nauseated, or excited, notify the NICU team immediately so they can assist you immediately.

Monitoring of a healthcare provider by parents:

If your NICU is in an academic institution and you are asked to leave during complex procedures, it is most likely because the health care provider (for example, a resident) is still learning the procedure, asking questions, and possibly possibly seeking help from the supervising physician or neonatal nurse practitioner. In some cases, the procedure is more likely to be successful if the health care provider is not observed by the parents.

A provider's comfort level with a parent present during procedures varies from provider to provider. So it's okay to ask the provider if she can stay. If you make it clear that she will leave when the provider asks, she may feel more comfortable with her presence.

Learn about common terms, phrases, and problems:

Just being more familiar with the words and concepts you hear on the beat and around the NICU will help you feel more involved in what's going on. Knowledge really is power. The more informed you are, the better you will understand what is happening to your baby. Reading will be useful to you. Talking with other parents who have had a NICU experience can be helpful (this is where “veteran” parents can be incredibly helpful). If you want detailed information, ask your baby's nurse or doctor for written materials that explain what is happening to your baby. Many NICUs have a guide for parents that outlines common procedures and the roles of the people who work in that unit. Some NICUs have a parent resource center inside the unit, with books and even computers so parents can learn from electronic resources.

When using the Internet to obtain information:

Remember that anyone can post information and ideas on the Internet. Not all information is accurate or even true. Ask for website recommendations from a parent educator, family resource center specialist, or member of your baby's care team.

Your NICU may also have a specialized training and support program for parents to help you become familiar with the experience your baby is expected to have in the NICU. The more you understand, the more effective you can be as an advocate for your baby.