Posts Tagged ‘hospital’

March of Dimes NICU Family Support® program offers services to thousands of families every year

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Nurse and mom in NICUNow in its 14th year, this unique program offers comfort, support and information to families who have a baby in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at over 120 hospitals across the U.S.

Babies in the NICU may have been born too small, too soon, or with a medical condition that requires intensive care. Throughout the NICU experience, parents can be involved in their baby’s care in a variety of important ways. The March of Dimes developed the NICU Family Support program to help support NICU families during their baby’s time in the NICU. The program also educates NICU staff about the best ways to support babies, families, and each other.

Specialized materials for long and short NICU stays

Hospitals with a NICU Family Support program are able to offer their families relevant, NICU-specific materials including a keepsake booklet, a guide for parenting in the NICU, and a NICU guide and glossary. As part of the program, hospitals also receive information for extended family members such as grandparents and siblings.

There are also materials for families whose babies stay in the NICU less than 14 days, a common experience that can also be very frightening and stressful.

Families can access March of Dimes NICU resources online from any device with an internet connection, in both English and Spanish. Topics include medical care, understanding equipment, how to hold and feed your baby in the NICU, becoming an informed parent, and many other important subjects.

Hospital staff education

NICU Family Support also provides ongoing education for hospital staff. This education focuses on best practices in supporting families, and the benefits of appropriate family-centered care for NICU babies at every stage of development. Training for staff is based on best practices and evidence based care, to help support them in their important role.

Parent to Parent online community

Support from other parents can be found on our online community, Share Your Story where current and “graduate” NICU parents reach out to help guide and comfort one another. Parents can log on and post a comment or question to join this warm and inviting group.


Have questions? Send them to

See other posts on how to help your child including how to transition from the NICU to Early Intervention services.


Staying positive in the NICU

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Passing the time while your baby is in the NICUHaving a baby in the NICU is stressful. Very stressful. When a baby is born prematurely, the roller coaster ride of the NICU experience is emotionally, physically and mentally taxing for parents.

Premature birth is the birth of a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy. One in 10 babies is born prematurely, or 15 million babies globally! Of these babies, one million will die. Babies who survive often have lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, intellectual disabilities and learning problems. Just knowing these statistics provokes anxiety and worry in parents. If you are a parent with a baby in the NICU, observing the ups and downs of your baby’s progress day to day can be heart wrenching and particularly wearing.

Depression more common in the NICU

Studies have shown that “in the month after delivery, parents of preemies are significantly more depressed and anxious than parents of term babies,” according to Linden, Paroli and Doron MD in the book Preemies – The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies, 2nd Edition. The authors report that “Besides depression and anxiety, they (parents) were more apt to feel hostile, guilty, and incompetent at parenting and to isolate themselves socially…An early delivery is itself so scary that even many parents of healthy preemies react with shock and anxiety.” Given the stress associated with seeing your baby in the hospital, and the ups and downs of slow progress – it is not hard to imagine that depression is seen more often in parents of preemies than in parents of children born at term.

Baby blues and postpartum depression

Many new mothers experience the “postpartum blues” or the “baby blues.” Baby blues are feelings of sadness you may have three to five days after having a baby. These feelings most likely are caused by all the hormones in your body right after pregnancy. You may feel sad or cranky, and you may cry a lot. By about 10 days after the baby’s birth, the baby blues should go away. If they don’t, tell your health care provider who will determine if you may have postpartum depression (PPD), which lasts longer and is more serious than baby blues.

Signs of PPD include feeling tired all the time, having no interest in your usual activities, gaining or losing weight, changing your eating habits, having trouble sleeping or concentrating, and thinking about suicide or death. If you have five or more of these signs and they last for two weeks or longer, you may have PPD. Sometimes mothers of preemies develop postpartum depression as a result of the severe stress and anxiety experienced by having a premature baby. Even fathers of preemies can become depressed.

What can help?

There are many ways to feel better. Treatments for depression may include all or some of the following: healthy eating, regular sleep and exercise, talking with friends, family or a professional counselor/therapist, lowering your stress by taking time to relax and avoiding alcohol. In addition, your health care provider may give you medication specifically designed to help with depression.

Talking to other parents who have gone through the NICU journey can be very helpful. The parents on the March of Dimes’ online community, Share Your Story, “talk” to one another and share their experiences. It is a comforting and supportive community, where all NICU families are welcomed.

When will you feel better?

The length of time a parent feels down, anxious or depressed can vary, and may depend on the health of your baby, and the length of NICU stay. But usually, parents of preemies begin to feel more balanced as their baby grows, and “by the end of the baby’s first year, their psychological distress, on average, has been found to be similar to those of mothers of term babies” according to the Preemies book. But, each baby and NICU stay is unique, so each parent’s journey to feeling better is unique.

Bottom line

Having a baby in the NICU is extraordinarily stressful and difficult. You need to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of your baby. It is important to be aware of the signs or symptoms of depression and to speak with your health care provider if you have any concerns at all.

The sooner you seek help, the sooner you will feel better.


Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also view the Table of Contents of prior posts.

Updated October 2015.

It’s National Nurses Week

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

nursesEvery year, National Nurses Week focuses attention on the diverse ways America’s 3.1 million registered nurses work to save lives and to improve the health of millions of individuals. Think of all the many ways nurses have helped you and your family.

Traditionally, National Nurses Week is devoted to highlighting the many ways in which registered nurses, who comprise the largest health care profession, are working to improve health care. From bedside nursing in hospitals and long-term care facilities to the halls of research institutions, state legislatures, and Congress, the depth and breadth of the nursing profession is meeting the expanding health care needs of American society. 

March of Dimes recognizes that nurses play a critical role in achieving our mission. Thank you for all you do to help women have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

Finding a doctor for baby

Friday, September 25th, 2009

20344732_thbTowards the end of my pregnancy my husband and I emailed our siblings and close friends for recommendations to pediatricians.  We asked them all a ton of questions, but still needed to call a couple of doctor’s offices for additional information. Things that were important to us included:

First and foremost, did this doctor accept our insurance?
Was the doctor a board certified pediatrician?
What hospital was the doctor affiliated with?
Was the doctor nice and well-liked?
Was he/she supportive of breastfeeding?
Was it easy to get an appointment at his/her office?
Were the staff and the office itself pleasant?
Did they have well-baby office hours?
Was the office close to our house?
How were calls and emergencies handled after hours?

With the exception of the occasional lengthy wait in the waiting room, we’re having a good experience with the doctor that we picked for our daughter. He is very friendly and throughout the visit asks, “so, what questions do you have?” I never feel rushed. I trust him. I actually enjoy taking her for her check-ups. This was not apart of the criteria for a selecting a pediatrician, but he happens to wear funny ties and the baby loves to stare and grab at them. So we think she likes him, too : )

How did you find your baby’s doctor?

Happy Friday! See you next week.

Take us home!

Friday, September 18th, 2009

20615173_thbMy roommate was very uncomfortable. She pressed the call button every hour complaining of pain. Sharing a bathroom postpartum was icky.  The laundry carts squeaked up and down the hallway. Dietary dropped off and picked up trays. Some guy woke me up to ask if I wanted the phone turned on.  The nurses constantly took my vitals and the baby from me every time their shift changed. Sixteen relatives showed up at once during visiting hours.  Exams and discharge instructions from my doctor and the pediatrician created an endless stack of paperwork. We were surrounded by strangers and noise and fluorescent lights.  I wanted my baby out of this chaotic environment. She belonged at home with me and her Dad. I wanted those bulky hospital bracelets off her tiny ankles. Her bassinet was waiting for her. I desperately needed a nice big mug of tea and some privacy.  Taking our baby home from the hospital couldn’t come fast enough.

It was a cold February afternoon. She was all bundled up and snug in her car seat. I sat nervously beside her in the backseat. Pink balloons and flowers surrounded us.  I reminded my husband not to drive too fast. We arrived in our driveway and I sighed. We made it.  Now what do we do? LOL!

No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t rest or relax in the hospital. I wanted to care for my baby by myself and in the space that we so lovingly prepared for her at home. Did you feel anxious during your hospital stay?

Breastfeeding your newborn in the hospital

Friday, September 11th, 2009

15082589_thbDo yourself and your precious little one a favor and start off on the right foot with breastfeeding. If you’ve done any reading about it then you already know that it’s “a learned skill” and “if you’re doing it properly it shouldn’t hurt.” These statements (although vague and not helpful at correcting a problem) are VERY, VERY true. It takes time, practice and help. Yes, help! Its one thing to see a diagram in a book or online, but it’s much more effective to have someone with trained hands at your bedside. You have to be in the right position. The baby has to be in the right position. There are different holds to experiment with. If you don’t get things down right from the start you and the baby could develop poor posture and latching habits. Take it from me. I’m the queen of sore, cracked, bleeding nipples. I held that title for more than two months before we got it right and it didn’t happen on its own. I spent hours on the phone with a lactation consultant. It wasn’t until I actually went to see a consultant (twice) at a nearby hospital that I had any success.

I hope the following tips help. If anyone has any other suggestions, please share!

Find a lactation consultant in your area. LLLI has leaders that host monthly meetings. Attend some before and after your baby is born.

During your tour of the hospital ask about lactation support. What days and hours does she work? Is this person a nurse? If so, is she only available during her shift? (That happened to me. When I was settled in my room and asked if they had a lactation consultant I was told, yes, but she wasn’t working again until Saturday. It was Thursday when I was admitted.)

Even if the hospital doesn’t have a lactation consultant ask the nurses for help at EVERY feeding. They’ll know what to do. Once you leave the hospital you’ll be on your own so take advantage of their knowledge and support.

Ask the staff for lots of extra pillows. Hospital pillows stink. They’re flat and plastic-y. You and the baby need to be well supported on all sides when you nurse.

Nursing in bed can be difficult. If you’re hospital room has a chair, try that. Again, support yourself with lots of pillows and use a foot stool. You need to feel “locked in” and comfortable at all times to nurse properly.

For home, have some lanolin, ibuprofen, a soft nursing bra and the number of a professional to call if you run into any problems.

Breastfeeding is demanding when you’re caring for a newborn.  You’re exhausted. Don’t add pain to that equation. Ask for help in advance to avoid problems.

TGIF and have a great weekend. See you next Friday.

The day Hannah arrived, the conclusion

Friday, September 4th, 2009

75460078915_0_albAlthough it would have made a great story, I didn’t deliver in the ambulance.  Sorry to disappoint.

Now where was I?

We arrived at some random hospital. We didn’t tour this facility. My midwife did not have privileges here. This was not the plan. I was quickly pulled out of the ambulance and rushed inside. I caught eyes with an elderly woman in the corridor who stepped to the side as we wheeled past. She looked horrified. Was I that bad?

The ER staff stood in a line waiting for me. One of them called out, “how many weeks is she?” I was just shy of thirty seven. I was crying up a storm. Someone chuckled, “oh, take her to L&D then!” Hold on…I’m not having my baby today. I might be sick. A kidney stone perhaps? I have back pain. I threw up. I didn’t shave my legs today. WAIT!

Before I knew it I was off the gurney and standing in what looked like a delivery room. Two nurses were pulling my coat off while asking me for my social security number and health insurance card. I could barely answer them and they were getting frustrated. A short, portly woman with rosy cheeks stepped in. In a soft voice she said, “you have to let us help you. Please answer our questions.” She guided me to the bed and yanked off my winter boots and jeans. She asked me if I was having any bleeding. I asked, “who are you?” She replied, “your doctor.”

Crutches and all, my husband finally found me. He was swarmed with questions and paperwork from the nurses. There must have been at least four people touching me all at once. I was in a hospital gown, there were two monitors strapped over my belly, a blood pressure cuff on my arm, an IV in my hand and the doctor was checking me. “Well, you’re 10 centimeters. You can start pushing whenever you have a contraction.” I almost didn’t believe her.  I felt like the room was spinning. It was loud and bright. I’m not due for another few weeks. Our families don’t know what’s happening. There was no time to call our doula. No over-night bag. No camera. I wasn’t prepared for this.

With my husband quietly at my side, I started to push every time I had the urge. I wasn’t having contractions in the traditional sense. Just intense pressure in my bottom. “Stop pushing with your face,” a nurse instructed. In between pushes I would reach into my husband’s sweat shirt pocket for some ice chips that I was storing in a plastic cup. My mouth was so dry.

I wasn’t sure if my pushes were working. I was distracted for a split second by my bright purple knee socks. Not a good look. Stay focused. “Is anything happening?” The doctor told me to reach down and feel for myself. I touched the top of my baby’s head. I gasped. It was the most perfect moment. It suddenly became real and I snapped out of the fog I was in. I have to get the baby out now.

At 4:42pm I became a mom. The doctor placed this tiny person on my chest. I looked up at my husband who had tears in his eyes and we kissed. We have a daughter. What a surprise! The room was quiet now. I was comfortable. Someone turned the lights down. We’re a family now. Despite the pain, fear and uncertainty it was a perfect day and I wouldn’t change a thing.

It definitely doesn’t end here. My Hannah turns 7 months old tomorrow and I have a ton of stories to share. Thanks for stopping by and see you next Friday. Enjoy the long weekend!

The day Hannah arrived, part two

Friday, August 28th, 2009

ambulanceI could hear the siren getting louder as they got closer  to the house. I couldn’t believe that was coming for me. I felt a little embarrassed. Was this really necessary?  I’d never been inside  an ambulance before. The truck pulled in the driveway. They shut the siren off, but the lights were still going. Oh, brother! And here comes a police car, too. My neighbors will  be so worried. I was approached by one of the medics. He started asking a ton of questions at once and on top of that was speaking so loudly. I literally put my hands over my ears and cried to him, “please stop shouting!”

The pain was really bad now and I could hardly speak. I yelled at my husband to answer the questions for me.   How many weeks pregnant are you? How far apart are your contractions? Whatever you do don’t push! Push? What are you crazy? Of course I’m not going to push. I’m not having the baby today. I’m not even having contractions. My back just really hurts. Wait…before we go I really have to run to the bathroom though.

Oh my. This WAS it! I left the bathroom and told the medic about the new sensation I was having . I really wanted  to push. We have to get you to the hospital now. What hospital do you want to go to? I don’t care. The closest one.  I fought them hard as they tried to get me on the gurney. I can’t sit! I can’t sit! They eventually got me to lay down on my side and wheeled me to the truck. Just before they slammed the doors shut my husband yelled, “I’m right behind you.”

“Only eight more minutes,” the driver said over her shoulder. We were getting closer  to the hospital. Bouncing around in an ambulance was awful. I couldn’t wait to get there and find out what exactly was going on. Despite the medics previous warning, I was  pushing. It helped relieve the intense pressure in my back and bottom.  The urge had  become so regular at that point. It would build up and then I’d push. When the medic caught on he shouted, “are you pushing?? Stop pushing!” I ignored him. This was not something I had control over.  I kept thinking, “relax! I’m not going to deliver in your ambulance!”

Sorry guys, but this post is getting way too long. Check back next Friday for the conclusion of, The day Hannah arrived. Have a great weekend everyone and Happy Birthday Mae-mae!

Oh, and if you missed part one of this story click here.

The day Hannah arrived

Friday, August 21st, 2009

10129968915_0_albMy back was bothering me  again. I sat at the kitchen table trying to  finish  a bowl of cereal, but I was too uncomfortable. I was 36 weeks pregnant and I had a horrible cold. I called in sick to work and shuffled back to bed.  I tried to fall asleep, but the pressure in my lower back wouldn’t give. I flopped from side to side. I paced around my bedroom. I rocked on my hands and knees, but my back continued to throb. I couldn’t sit still for more than a second. I called for my husband who happened to be  home  recuperating  from a substantial orthopedic surgery that he had two weeks earlier. He massaged my back while balancing on his crutches, but it did no good.

“Don’t leave me”, I said. I was nervous and had to keep moving. He hobbled behind  me from room to room. Maybe I pinched a nerve or pulled a muscle? Let’s just call the midwife and  tell her what’s going on. She said it could just be end-of –pregnancy discomfort. Call her back if anything changes.  I wasn’t having any other symptoms. Until…very suddenly I did.

I ran to the bathroom and  threw up. The pressure in my back ramped up and radiated down into my bottom. I was moaning and walking  around on my tippy toes with my back arched. It was intense. Could this be it?  Was this labor? It came on so suddenly that we weren’t sure. I wasn’t having contractions . Everything we read said that labor progresses slowly and can take hours and hours for first time moms.  Could this be some other medical issue? My husband said, “that’s it we’re going to the hospital.” I was crying.

Somehow he managed to get me into the backset of the car although I was unable to sit. I was on my knees holding onto the head rest. We reached the stop sign at the end of our block and I jumped out of the car. I couldn’t tolerate the car. I just couldn’t do it. My husband was yelling at me, “what are you doing? Get back in the car!!” I somehow managed to crawl back in and he drove like a maniac in reverse back to our house. He whipped  into the driveway and called 911. ..To Be Continued.

Check back next Friday for Part 2 of, The day Hannah arrived. Have a great weekend and Happy Birthday Peter!

Will your hospital help you breastfeed?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

breastfeeding-2-smSo you’re pregnant and want to breastfeed your baby. Great choice! Breastmilk is the best food for most babies during the first year of life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies exclusively breastfeed for about the first 6 months of life. That means the baby has only breastmilk and no other form of food. In other words: No formula.

A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health looked at whether hospitals support women who want to exclusively breastfeed their babies.

Researchers found that most hospitals encourage women to breastfeed and support those who choose to do so. But hospitals are less helpful when it comes to exclusive breastfeeding.

For instance, many of them give formula to moms who want to exclusively breastfeed. They may also give newborns pacifiers, which can interfere with exclusive breastfeeding. So it can be confusing to the new mom who’s trying to learn how to do this.

So if you want to exclusively breastfeed, you will need to say “No, thanks” to hospital staff when they provide formula and pacifiers.

The March of Dimes article on breastfeeding lists resources that can help you prepare before your due date arrives.