Posts Tagged ‘NICU’

Breastfeeding your baby in the NICU can be challenging

Monday, August 4th, 2014

feeding in the NICUMost 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 preemie 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 preemie 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 preemie is tube feeding, your baby’s nurse can show you how to give your baby his feedings.

• Pump frequently, every 2 to 2-1/2 hours around the clock for a couple of days and nights (or 8 to 12 times during the day, so you can catch some sleep at night).

• 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.

• Preemies 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 preemie. 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 preemie. More information on how to feed your baby in the NICU can be found here.

If you have questions about how to feed your baby, email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Thanks for your support!

Monday, April 28th, 2014

marching feetHundreds of thousands of you joined us this weekend for March for Babies! We had great success, lots of fun, met new people and old friends. To all of you who participated, in person or through a donation, we sincerely thank you for your support.

Preemie chats this weekend

Friday, November 15th, 2013

wpd2013

This is Prematurity Awareness weekend and we’ll be involved in chats on both Saturday and Sunday. Join us on Saturday as part of the day-long World Prematurity Network relay. We will be talking about parenting in the NICU at 1 PM ET. Make sure you use #worldprematurityday to fully engage.

On Sunday, which is actually World Prematurity Day, we will be discussing and sharing birth stories. Please come share your unique story with us throughout the afternoon. We can learn a lot from each other. Use #birthstories to be included in the thread.

We look forward to seeing you with us.

Going home after the NICU

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

mom-and-preemieOne in every nine babies in the U.S. is born prematurely and most spend some time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Life isn’t easy for them or their parents.

Join our chat about what it’s like once you bring your baby home from the NICU, the challenges, the fears, the daily miracles, the joy. Our guest will be Amanda Farr Knickerbocker, @Micropreemie, mom to a micropreemie & creator of the amazing site understandingprematurity.com.

Please join us on Thursday Nov. 14th at 1 PM ET. Share your story, ask questions. Be sure to use #nicuchat to fully participate.

Upcoming chats in November

Friday, October 25th, 2013

texting2We have pulled together a calendar of Twitter chats @MODHealthTalk for Prematurity Awareness Month. Mark them on your calendar and then come join us.

 

11/1 – Infant and baby loss, 9 PM ET. #losschat
11/7 – Bed rest with Keep ‘Em Cookin, 1 PM ET. #pregnancychat
11/14 – Going home after the NICU, 1 PM ET. #NICUchat
11/16 – Parenting in the NICU, 1 PM ET. #worldprematurityday (Part of the World Prematurity Network relay)
11/17 – Birth stories. World Prematurity Day, anytime all day. #birthstories.
11/20 – Early intervention: how to get help for your child. 1 PM ET. #preemiechat

Helping you on a local level

Friday, September 20th, 2013

moms-to-be2Working with our partners, the March of Dimes strives to develop and implement local programs that will ultimately improve the health of babies. Through our network of chapters and volunteers, these programs reach over a million people across the country and Puerto Rico each year. We provide information and services designed to prevent premature birth and birth defects and to promote healthy pregnancies.

Community grants are awarded annually to fund the best programs. Local programs like Centering Pregnancy®, group prenatal care, are focused on improving the availability and quality of health care. We also support services that help promote the health and well-being of women and couples before pregnancy to increase their chances of having a healthy baby. Other programs educate doctors and nurses about reducing the rates of elective labor inductions and c-sections before the 39th week of pregnancy.

Through NICU Family Support®, we provide information and comfort to families coping with the experience of having a baby in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU). NICU Family Support complements and enhances family-centered care practices in partner hospitals, addresses the needs of families and provides professional development to NICU staff.

And the staff in our Pregnancy & Newborn Health Education Center answers your health related questions that come in on our News Moms Need blog, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Share Your Story community and direct emails sent to Askus@marchofdimes.com. We’re here to help.

A father’s role in the NICU

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

NICU dadYour beautiful baby has arrived. But he or she was born prematurely or is sick, and needs special care. Your joy over your baby’s birth may be mixed with worry and heartache. This is not how you expected fatherhood to begin.

The birth of a premature or sick baby is stressful and difficult for all family members. But it can be especially rough on you. You may worry about your baby and your partner, as well as other children at home, demands from your job and financial concerns. While each father develops his own way of coping with the birth of a premature or sick infant, this information may help make this difficult time a bit easier.

You may feel many conflicting emotions after your baby is born. These emotions, from anxiety and fear to anger and resentment, love and pride, helplessness and hope, can be very intense. All of the feelings are normal and most men experience some of them. As your baby gets stronger, your negative feelings may lessen. Expect this to be an emotional roller coaster ride for a while.

Keep in mind that the birth of a sick child can put stress on the relationship between you and your partner, as well as your relationships with other family members. It’s important to share your feelings with your partner through your baby’s illness, so that you can support each other and come through this experience a stronger team.

Read more about keeping your relationship strong, ways to help your partner and your baby, how to let others help you and how to take care of yourself in our article for dads. Being a NICU dad can be difficult, especially if your baby is very sick. You should take pride in all the things you do to help your baby and your partner, and realize that you are making a difference.

Levels of hospital care

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Have you ever wondered what a Level I, II, or III hospital is? How will you know which is right for you when the time comes to deliver? Dr. Siobhan Dolan explains how hospital nurseries are classified in the new March of Dimes book Healthy Mom Healthy Baby.

“Every hospital with a maternity department must have a nursery, a unit devoted to newborn care. Some provide more extensive care than others. Hospital nurseries are classified by the kind of care they offer:

  Level I – Well-newborn nurseries that provide a basic level of medical care to low-risk and healthy newborns.

  Level II – Special-care nurseries that can care for infants who are moderately ill or born a few weeks early with health problems that are expected to improve rapidly.

  Level III – Neonatal Intensive care units (NICUs) with highly trained providers and advanced equipment to provide complex care, surgery, and life support for infants who are critically ill, very small, or very premature.

“If you are having a healthy low-risk pregnancy, it is not necessary to make special arrangements to give birth in a hospital with a level II or III nursery. However, if you are having pregnancy complications, or your baby has a known or suspected health problem, talk with your provider about whether choosing a hospital with a higher level of newborn care is a good idea.”

You can read more about Dr. Dolan’s book, and even order a copy, at this link.

The many benefits of kangaroo care

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

kangaroo-care-dadIf your baby is in the NICU, kangaroo care can seem like a life saver. Kangaroo care is a way to hold your baby so that there is as much skin contact between you and your baby as possible. It has wonderful benefits for both you and your baby.

For kangaroo care, your baby is placed upright on your bare chest.
• Ask the nurse for a warm blanket to cover you and your baby.
• Strong smells like perfume or cigarette smoke on you or your clothing can bother your baby, so be sure to wash before holding.
• Hold your baby for at least an hour in this position. Be sure to go to the bathroom and put your phone away before getting comfortable. Your baby needs your full attention.

Gentle, still touch is very important, especially for the most sick and fragile of babies. It might make you feel good to stroke your baby, but it doesn’t feel good to your baby in the NICU. Stroking can make a baby feel uneasy or uncomfortable. Touching without moving your hands is best.

Kangaroo care is good for your baby because it can:
• Keep your baby warm
• Stabilize your baby’s heart rate
• Help your baby gain weight
• Comfort your baby

It’s good for Mom and Dad too because:
• It can help you bond with your baby.
• It can stimulate a mother’s ability to make breast milk.
• It can reduce your stress and lift your spirits.
• It may help you become more confident parents.

Kangaroo care is safe and beneficial, even if your baby is connected to machines. Whatever your situation, kangaroo care is a precious way to be close to your baby. You will cherish this time. You can learn more about kangaroo care by looking at our Power Point presentation at this link.

The March of Dimes gratefully acknowledges Philips’ support of our NICU Family Support® and Close to MeSM programs

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Was your baby in a radiant warmer or isolette?

Monday, March 11th, 2013

isoletteWhen a baby born early is in the NICU, it’s usually because he needs to be closely monitored in a safe, protected environment so he can continue to develop like he would if he were still inside Mom. This high level of care can’t happen in the cute nursery you have set up at home. That has to wait until later.

Since premature babies cannot regulate their body temperature well, they often are placed in a radiant warmer for a couple of days. This odd-looking open bed may not look like it will do much, but a special sensor taped to the baby’s skin keeps track of his body temperature and adjusts the heat around him as needed. The openness of the bed allows easy access for medical attention during constant monitoring.

Once stabilized, babies usually are transferred to an isolette. This plexiglass box is an incubator that protects the baby from temperature fluctuations in the room. It has portholes on the sides for medical staff to reach through in order to provide different treatments, diaper changes, etc. One wall of the isolette can be unhinged to provide complete access to the baby. As in the radiant warmer, the temperature within the isolette is regulated in accordance with the baby’s temperature needs. Some isolettes also provide moist, humidified air to prevent the baby’s environment from becoming too dry.

Many parents of a baby in the NICU want to decorate their baby’s isolette, make it personal. In time, that will be a great idea, but in the beginning babies often can’t handle any extra stimulation. Very tiny babies may not even be able to handle being touched for the first week or so. It’s hard for parents to see their baby in such a sterile environment. Items such as a special isolette cover, a stuffed animal or family photo can provide a touch of home. By talking with the NICU staff caring for their baby, parents will learn when and how much of a personal touch will be best for their little one.

If you had a baby in the NICU, how long was it before you were able to personalize your baby’s bed?