During your time in the NICU, we will guide you through the medical care and support you in caring for and connecting with your baby. It is important to address medical and developmental needs of your baby, including bonding physically and emotionally with parents. We encourage skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) between parents and their babies as soon as your baby’s medical condition allows. This skin-to-skin contact not only helps parents feel more connected and relaxed, but helps infants with improved stability and even growth.
We also support mothers in breastfeeding their infants. If your baby is ill, small, or premature, however, oral feeding may not be possible initially. If this is the case, you can pump and save your breast milk for when your baby is stronger. The nurses and lactation consultants will support you along this journey.
It is hard to predict how long babies will need to stay in the hospital. There are several milestones they must achieve before they are ready to go home, such as maintaining normal temperatures in an open crib, breast- or bottle-feeding, gaining weight consistently, and having stable breathing and vital signs without pauses in their breathing. Many premature babies go home around their due date, but some need to stay longer. The more premature your baby is, the more likely they need more time.
As you prepare for going home, you will assume more and more care for your infant, including understanding how to give all medications and treatments needed. As we progress to discharge, the selection of a pediatrician for your baby allows us to work collaboratively with your baby’s doctor before you leave to ensure a smooth transition.
Throughout your journey, we build close relationships, sometimes over months. After discharge, we will want to know how your baby and family are doing and hope that you will keep in touch with updates. We eagerly look forward to connecting with you at the annual reunion event.