Bub Born Early

Was Your Bub Born Early?

 

 The NICU Journey
 
  • Record as much of the experience as possible…it may not seem like it right now, but over time the memories will fade.  Keep a journal, take lots of photos and video footage (from all different angles), get a print of their hands and feet (as early as possible) and hold on to keepsakes such as your baby’s first I.D. bracelet, one of their tiniest clean nappies and their hospital sticker.
 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help or respite…ask to speak with the hospital psychologists, social workers or therapists if you need their assistance. It’s a stressful time and it helps to share your feelings with someone who is removed from the situation.  And as well meaning as they are trying to be, if you need a break from having visitors accompany you to the nursery don’t be afraid to tell them.  Alternatively if you need more support let them know….they are your friends and family and generally only want what is best for you.
 
 
  • Make friends with other parents…having a premature baby is one of those unique experiences that you have to live through to really understand and you’ll benefit from each other’s support not only in the hospital but once you get home as well.  Make use of the hospitals parent and expressing rooms as these are good places to introduce yourself to others in your situation.
  • Take time out for yourself…a day or an afternoon away from the hospital will do you the world of good. No one knows how long your baby will spend in hospital and when they do finally come home you'll need your wits about you!
  
  • Trust in your doctors, nurses and your own instinct…your doctors and nurses are doing everything they can to help your child, but if something doesn’t seem right with your baby don’t be afraid to express your concerns.  Having sat by your child’s side day-in and day-out you know them better than any individual doctor or nurse.
  • Set goals and reward yourselves…celebrate all the milestones your child, and you, achieve eg. your 23 weeker finally reaches 1 kg, so bring in a cake for you to enjoy with the staff and something to decorate the little ones isolette.  Make plans with each other and/or the other parents eg. plan to do something special with your newfound friends once your children are no longer in hospital.
 
  • Allow future families to celebrate with you…if your hospital has a notice board or boards filled with letters and posters detailing the lives of their former premature patients, you will know the hope that information provides you as you travel your own journey.  Make it a goal to create a poster about your child when they have graduated from the NICU and allow achieving that goal inspire you along the way and realizing that goal inspire others once you have left.
  •  Don’t be afraid to get involved in your child’s routine cares…as soon as you are able to, participate in changing your babies nappy (or cotton ball if they are very small!), cleaning their mouths, massaging them and picking out an outfit for them to wear the next day.  You will both benefit from the contact and bonding these experiences provide.
 
  • Invest in a good bag, hand cream, hand sanitiser, expressing kit (or two) and lunch…You will have stuff you will need and want to take into the NICU with you every day so ensure you have an adequately sized bag to carry it and one that can keep your breast milk cool if you are expressing.  You will need to be particularly mindful of not introducing germs to yourself or the nursery, so having your own bottle of hand sanitiser to clean your hands on the go, and a good quality moisteriser to counteract the drying effects of using it or washing your hands constantly, is important.  If you are expressing, invest in a good quality expressing kit or two.  This does not necessarily mean buying one of the very expensive breast pumps that are available, but ensuring you have the correct kit for the pump you are planning to hire or buy and having an extra kit so that you aren’t having to wash up at 3am in the morning or so you can pump both breasts at once to save time.  Ordering lunch from the hospital cafĂ© can prove to be very expensive over time, so try to remember to pack lunch, a drink and some snacks to take in each day.