Posts Tagged ‘NICU’

March of Dimes resources for NICU parents

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

Being a parent in the newborn intensive care unit (also called NICU) can bring a mix of emotions, like fear, loneliness and anxiety. It can leave you with so many questions and a longing for support and understanding. March of Dimes helps moms and families throughout the NICU journey, as well as through every stage of pregnancy. It’s what we do. We invite you to use our digital resources to get information, answers to your questions and useful tools. They also can connect you with women and families who have had similar pregnancy and NICU experiences.

March of Dimes Facebook Mentorship Program for NICU Grad Moms:

If you’ve recently brought your baby home from the NICU, we’ve launched a digital platform to pair you with a fellow NICU grad mom as a mentor. Our Facebook Mentorship Program connects you with a support system to help you balance self-care with taking care of your baby, find support from moms who know what you’re going through and get advice and content from a trusted source like March of Dimes. If you’re interested in participating as a mentee, visit our Facebook Mentorship Program.

March of Dimes My NICU Baby™ App:

My NICU Baby app provides answers, tools and support to help you focus on your baby during the NICU stay. Track your baby’s feedings and learn about NICU staff, policies, equipment and terminology. Designed by experts, the app can help you advocate for the best care for your baby. Available for free on the App Store and Google Play. Visit mynicubaby.org for more information.

Share Your Story®:

Share Your Story is a warm, supportive online community filled with families who have been touched by, inspired by or personally affected by the mission of March of Dimes. These families know what it means to face uncertainty and fear at a time when most people expect excitement and joy. The community is fueled by caring, helpful individuals who “get it” because they have been where you are now. Share Your Story offers understanding, healing, friendship and support. Join Share Your Story.

Tips for bringing baby home from the NICU

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Bringing your baby home from the hospital after birth is a very exciting time. But if you had a premature birth or other pregnancy complications and your baby had to stay in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU), you may feel stressed or worried about taking your baby home. It’s normal to have lots of questions about life after the NICU. You may have questions like:

  • How do I get ready to take my baby home from the NICU?
  • What do I need to do if my baby needs medical equipment at home?
  • Is it OK to have visitors and family over when the baby comes home?
  • Can I take my baby outside for walks or with me to run errands?

Here’s what you can do to feel ready:

Talk to your baby’s health care provider and the NICU staff before leaving the hospital with your baby. This is especially important if your baby needs medicine. Write down all the medicine instructions and ask about how to store the medicine properly. Ask about basic baby care, safe sleep and how to use a car seat safely. And ask what the temperature in your home and your baby’s room should be.

If your baby needs medical equipment, learn how to use it while your baby is still in the NICU. Make sure the electricity in your home works with your baby’s equipment. If your baby needs more than one kind of equipment or if you live in an older home, you may need to check your electric system. If you rent your home, talk with your landlord about what you need.

Having friends and family over to meet your baby is fine, but limit the number of people who visit. Even though its summer, you and your baby can get the flu and other infections anytime of the year. Family and friends who are sick, have a fever or who may have been exposed to an illness should wait to visit your baby. Any adult who will have contact with your baby should get a pertussis vaccination (shot). Pertussis is also called whooping cough.

Going outside with your baby is OK, but stay away from crowded places like grocery stores. It’s fine to take your baby for walks outside or to visit friends or family.  But don’t take your baby to places like shopping malls and grocery stores. If you’re going outside, keep your baby cool in hot weather and protect yourselves from mosquitoes. Most bug sprays and lotions are safe to use on babies 2 months and older, but products with oil of lemon eucalyptus are not safe for children under the age of 3. Always read the spray or lotion label to make sure it’s safe for your baby. Put a mosquito netting across the top of your baby’s stroller when you’re outside. Make sure it doesn’t touch your baby’s face or body.

Taking care of yourself while your baby is in the NICU

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Having a baby in the newborn intensive care unit (also called NICU) can be very stressful for you and your family. There’s so much you need to learn and so many unknowns. It is normal that you focus most of your attention on your baby’s needs, but you also need to think about your own needs. Taking care of yourself can help you stay healthy and feel better. When you are feeling well, you will be in a better state of mind to help your baby.

Here are five things you can do to take care of yourself when your baby is in the NICU:

  • Maintain a daily routine. Having a routine can help you reduce stress. Every day focus on doing things that are good for you, like: eating healthy foods and regular meals, taking a relaxing shower, drinking plenty of water, and getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Make connections with other NICU families at NICU classes, in the family lounge or in the NICU hallway. NICU families may understand how you’re feeling better than friends and family who are not necessarily going through a similar experience.
  • Visit shareyourstory.org, March of Dimes online community for families. Here you can connect and share with moms and families who have a baby in the NICU. You can find support from these parents who also have a baby in the NICU, or are going through similar experiences with their babies.
  • Consider taking breaks from the NICU. It’s OK to make time for yourself and your family. Remember, you need to be ok to be able to help others.
  • Talk to a counselor. Counselors are professionals who specialized in mental health. Talking to a counselor may help you cope with your feelings. A counselor may be someone from the NICU staff or a social worker. The NICU Staff or your health care provider can help you find a counselor.

For more information about the NICU and how to take care of yourself and your baby visit marchofdimes.org

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

It’s time to celebrate the old and welcome in the new! All of us at the March of Dimes and News Moms Need want to wish you and your family a very happy and healthy year ahead.

We will be on vacation between December 29, 2017 through January 1, 2018. We will return to answer your questions on January 2, 2018. Please contact your health care provider, go the the hospital, or call 911 if you believe that you are in preterm labor or have a medical emergency. The following pages on our website may be helpful to you:

Signs and symptoms of preterm labor

Pregnancy complications

Labor and birth

The newborn intensive care unit (NICU)

Loss and grief

 

Breastfeeding your baby in the NICU can be challenging

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Many babies, even those born very premature can learn to breastfeed. Breast milk provides many health benefits for all newborns, but especially for premature or sick babies in the NICU. Feeding a premature baby may be much different than what you had planned. If you must pump, you may feel disappointed that you are not able to feed your warm baby on your breast. But, providing breast milk for your preemie is something special and beneficial that you can give him.

Here are tips to help you breastfeed your premature baby while in the NICU.

If your baby is unable to feed or latch:

• Start pumping as soon as you can to establish your milk supply. Ask a nurse for a pump and assistance.

• If your baby is tube feeding, your baby’s nurse can show you how to give your baby his feedings.

• Pump frequently, 8 to 12 times during a 24 hour span of time.

• Practice skin to skin or kangaroo care if your nurse says it is ok. Both are beneficial, even if your baby is connected to machines and tubes.

If your baby is able to suckle:

• Ask to feed him in a quiet, darkened room, away from the beeping machines and bright lights.

• Many mothers find the cross cradle position very helpful for feedings. Start with kangaroo care. Then position the baby across your lap, turned in towards you, chest to chest. Use a pillow to bring him to the level of your breast if you need to.

• Babies born early need many opportunities at the breast to develop feeding skills regardless of gestational age. This requires practice and patience.

• You may need increased support to breastfeed your premature baby. Look for support from your nurses, the hospital’s lactation consultant, friends or family.

Not every tip will work for every mom. Try to find the feeding methods and solutions that work best for you and your baby. More information on how to feed your baby in the NICU can be found here.

Premature birth and the NICU: a personal experience

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Every day I read and answer lots of questions on topics like preconception care, prenatal care, and how to have a healthy pregnancy. I also answer many questions about complications in pregnancy, like premature birth. So when I found out I was pregnant last year, I felt pretty well-prepared and knowledgeable. However, like many first time moms, I had a little anxiety those first few weeks.

The first half of my pregnancy was completely healthy and free of problems. However, at 23 weeks during my prenatal check-up, my doctor told me that there was a problem with my cervix. She told me that the ultrasound was showing I had a short cervix and explained I would need to go on bed rest and be treated with progesterone in order to help me stay pregnant longer. Unfortunately, having a short cervix is ​​a risk factor for preterm labor.

I had been on bed rest for 11 weeks, when during a routine prenatal check-up, the doctors told me that they would need to induce labor. My amniotic fluid was very low and they suspected that I had preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) I was 34 weeks and 1 day. My son, Theodore (Theo), was born the next day, November 22nd, weighing 4 pounds and 14 ounces.

Although I was able to hold him in my arms for about 10 minutes after delivery, while in the recovery room, he was quickly taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for testing and put in the incubator. Theo was born with very high levels of bilirubin (jaundice) and had problems controlling his body temperature. Despite knowing that he was in good hands and receiving the necessary treatment, it was such a hard moment.

When I saw my son in the NICU for the first time I felt so many emotions. He was in the incubator, with the special blue lights for jaundice, and a small IV that was supplying his first nutrients. A few days after, they inserted a tube through his nose to feed him my breast milk because he didn’t have enough strength to suck and swallow on his own properly. The good news is that he had no breathing problems.

Despite these challenges, I was determined to practice kangaroo care (skin-to-skin contact) and feed him breastmilk. Since Theo was still learning to suck and swallow, he couldn’t latch, so I pumped my breast milk for his feedings. Kangaroo care is especially good for preemies because it helps them stay warm, helps them sleep better, and helps with bonding.

Having to leave our son in the hospital was a very difficult experience for my husband and me. Every day we headed out to the NICU early and came back home to eat dinner and sleep. I pumped every 2 to 3 hours and stored the milk to bring to the NICU for the next day. Theo stayed in the NICU a total of 10 days from birth until being discharged. The day we took him home was one of the happiest days of our lives.

The month of November will always be special month for me. In exactly 9 days, we will be celebrating Theo’s first birthday. He is a healthy, curious, independent, and sweet boy who can make anyone’s heart melt with his sweet smiles and giggles. It’s amazing how time flies.

November is also Prematurity Awareness Month. As overwhelming as the experience of having a premature delivery and birth was, I feel even more connected to March of Dimes’ mission, to all the women and families who share their story with us, and to all those who fight to give babies a happy and healthy tomorrow.

What is a respiratory therapist?

Monday, October 30th, 2017

If your baby is in the NICU, you know that there are a lot of people caring for her and helping her to get stronger each day. One of those NICU team members may be a respiratory therapist. A respiratory therapist (or RT) cares for babies with breathing problems.

When your baby first arrives in the NICU, a respiratory therapist evaluates her breathing. The RT looks to see if your baby is breathing too fast, if the breaths are shallow, or if she’s struggling to breathe. Then, together with the rest of the NICU team, the RT develops a treatment plan to help care for your baby.

Here are some common conditions that a respiratory therapist may see in the NICU:

Breathing problems: Premature babies often have breathing problems because their lungs are not fully developed. Full-term babies also can develop breathing problems due to complications of labor and delivery, birth defects and infections.

Apnea: Premature babies sometimes do not breathe regularly. A baby may take a long breath, then a short one, then pause for 5 to 10 seconds before starting to breathe normally. This is called periodic breathing. Apnea is when a baby stops breathing for more than 15 seconds. Apnea may be accompanied by a slow heart rate called bradycardia. Babies in the NICU are constantly monitored for apnea and bradycardia (often called “A’s and B’s”).

Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS): Babies born before 34 weeks of pregnancy often develop RDS. Babies with RDS do not have enough surfactant, which keeps the small air sacs in the lungs from collapsing.

Pneumonia: This lung infection is common in premature and other sick newborns. A baby’s doctors may suspect pneumonia if the baby has difficulty breathing, if her rate of breathing changes, or if the baby has an increased number of apnea episodes.

Many babies who need treatment for breathing problems benefit from respiratory therapy. In fact, neonatal respiratory therapy has become its own medical sub-specialty. A neonatal-pediatric RT is trained to use complex medical equipment to care for the smallest babies with mild to severe breathing challenges. They visit their patients daily or as often as needed and are an important part of your baby’s NICU team.

Have questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

What is newborn screening?

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Newborn screening looks for rare but serious and mostly treatable conditions. Babies with these conditions often look healthy at birth, but if the disorder is not diagnosed and treated early, a baby may develop serious health problems. Newborn screening identifies babies with these conditions so they can get the treatment that they need. Newborn screening includes blood, hearing and heart tests.

When is newborn screening done?

All babies in the United States get newborn screening before they leave the hospital, when they are 1 or 2 days old. Some states require that babies have newborn screening again, about 2 weeks later.

If your baby is not born in a hospital, talk to her provider about getting newborn screening before she is 7 days old.

What happens if your baby is in the NICU?

Babies in the NICU may require a special process for newborn screening. If your baby is born prematurely, at a low birthweight, or needs special care in the NICU, it’s possible that some of the treatments and procedures she’s receiving may affect newborn screening results. Often, babies born early will require more than one newborn screening blood draw to make sure that the results are accurate. Talk to your baby’s NICU team if you have questions about newborn screening.

How is newborn screening done?

Newborn screening is done in 3 ways:

  1. Your baby’s baby’s heel is pricked to get a few drops of blood. The blood is collected on a special paper and sent to a lab for testing. The lab then sends the results back to your baby’s health provider.
  2. For the hearing screening, the provider places a tiny, soft speaker in your baby’s ear to check how your baby responds to sound.
  3. For heart screening, a test called pulse oximetry is used. This test checks the amount of oxygen in your baby’s blood by using a sensor attached to his finger or foot. This test is used to screen babies for a heart condition called critical congenital heart disease (CCHD). CCHDs are the most severe heart defects. Babies with CCHD need treatment within the first few hours, days or months of life. Without treatment, CCHD can be deadly.

When will you get the results?

In most cases after your baby has had newborn screening, you won’t hear any more about them. Most newborn screening results are normal and if that is the case, families are not contacted. But you can always ask your baby’s health care provider for the results.

In rare cases when the screening results are out-of-range, you will receive a phone call about 2-3 weeks following the screening. This call can come from either the state newborn screening program or your baby’s health care provider and it usually means that your baby simply needs more testing.

How many health conditions should your baby be screened for?

The March of Dimes would like to see all babies in all states screened for at least 34 health conditions. Many of these health conditions can be treated if found early. Each state decides which tests are required. You can find out which conditions your state screen for here.

Do you have questions? Ask us

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Have a question about becoming pregnant? Do you want to learn more about what to expect during your pregnancy? Is your baby in the NICU? Let us help.

Our Health Education Specialists provide women and families with evidence-based information about having a healthy pregnancy and reducing the risk of having a preterm birth. Our specialists have been answering questions from women and families since 1997.

How can you reach our specialists?

Our specialists can answer your questions in both English and Spanish. For English, text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org. For Spanish, text or email preguntas@marchofdimes.org. You can also submit your questions through our website. Just complete our online form and one of our staff will respond within 2 business days.

Health Education Specialists all have master’s degrees in health fields such as public health, health science, nutrition and genetic counseling. We also have a certified lactation counselor on staff.

What information can our center provide?

Our specialists can provide information on many topics including:

  • starting a family
  • how to have a healthy pregnancy
  • pregnancy complication and risks
  • newborn health
  • prematurity
  • the NICU experience
  • lasting effects of prematurity
  • birth defects and special needs
  • pregnancy and infant loss.

If you are looking for information related to any of the topics listed, you’ve come to the right place. Reach out for resources and support. Our Health Education Specialists are here for you.

Getting ready for discharge from the NICU

Monday, July 31st, 2017

In general, your premature baby will be ready to go home around her due date. But your baby will have to reach certain milestones first. Her vital signsPreemie going home–temperature, breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure–must be consistently normal. This means that your baby:

  • Keeps herself warm
  • Sleeps in a crib, not an incubator
  • Weighs about 4 pounds or more
  • Has learned to breast- or bottle-feed
  • Breathes on her own

What can you do to get ready?

Make sure you talk to your baby’s health care provider and the NICU staff about caring for your baby at home. Here are some things to think about:

  • Do you have everything you need at home to take care of your baby? Do you have medicine and equipment your baby needs? Do you know how to give your baby medicine and use the equipment?
  • Are there any videos, classes, booklets or apps that may help you learn how to take care of your baby at home? Ask about taking a CPR class prior to bringing your baby home—knowing what to do in an emergency may make you feel more comfortable.
  • What do you want discharge day to be like? Do you want family or friends to be there when you and your baby get home? Or do you want it to be just you and your partner with your baby?

Many hospitals let parents “room in” with their baby for a night or two before going home. This can be a good way to practice taking care of your baby on your own while the NICU staff is still right there to help.

Car seat

You will be required to have a car seat before you leave the hospital. Preterm and low-birthweight infants have a higher chance of slowed breathing or heart rate while in a car seat. So your baby may need a “car seat test” before being discharged. The NICU staff will monitor your baby’s heart rate and breathing while she is in her car seat for 90 to 120 minutes. They may watch your baby even longer if your travel home is more than 2 hours.

Follow-up care

Make sure you have chosen a health care provider for your baby. You can choose a:

  • Pediatrician. This is a doctor who has special training to take care of babies and children.
  • Family practice doctor. This is a doctor who provides care for every member of a family.
  • Nurse practitioner. This is a registered nurse with advanced medical education and training.

If your baby has special medical needs, you may also need a provider who specializes in that condition. The NICU staff, hospital social worker or your baby’s general care provider can help you find someone.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.