In honor of Neonatal Nurses Day, we talked to Jessica Zackula RNC, BSN, a NICU nurse and NICU mom. Jessica experienced the ups and downs of giving birth early and having her baby hospitalized in the NICU for three weeks. And, as a NICU nurse, she is aware of what parents need to know when their baby is in the NICU. Here is her advice for NICU parents:
“As a NICU nurse and NICU mom, here are 3 things I wish every parent knew walking through the doors of the NICU:
1. Speak up for your baby.
- You know your baby better than anyone in the NICU. You are an important part of your baby’s care team. If you have questions, be sure to ask them.
2. Do the best you can with pumping and breastfeeding.
- Breastmilk is one of the most important things you can give your baby while he or she is in the NICU. Even if your baby is too young to breastfeed, your baby can still receive breast milk through a feeding tube. Seek help on how to pump breastmilk.
3. Take care of yourself; lean on other NICU parents to help get you through tough times.
- No one knows the NICU journey better than another NICU parent.
- It is important that you take time to care for yourself during the sometimes rocky ride through the NICU.
- You and your baby will benefit from being well rested, drinking plenty of water, and eating healthy foods.”
Jessica realizes the value of parents working together with the NICU staff. Clear communication is key in understanding what is happening to your baby. Being an informed parent allows you to look out for your baby’s best interest and be her advocate.
More about Jessica…
Jessica Zackula RNC, BSN has been working as a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital in Washington, since 1999. Her daughter, Lily, was born at 32.2 weeks gestation in 2004, and was a patient in Jessica’s NICU unit for 21 days. Lily left the NICU to go home weighing just 3 pounds 5 ounces. Today, she is a healthy, bright 11 year old, who just began the 6th grade.
In 2010, Jessica was promoted to nursing leadership of the Tacoma General Hospital NICU, where she currently remains as the Clinical Nurse Manager. She is passionate about continuous quality improvement and creating an optimal experience for families in the NICU through integrated, family centered care.
In honor of Neonatal Nurses Day
We want to thank Jessica and every NICU nurse, for their dedication and tireless efforts to help fragile, sick babies. We know that their exceptional care makes a difference for each and every baby in the NICU.
NICU parents can reach out to other parents on Share Your Story, the March of Dimes online community, where you will find comfort and support. Also, we invite you to browse News Moms Need for other helpful posts on prematurity and life in the NICU.
Have questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.