Cafe Brigitte

A place for stay at home moms to talk over coffee

NICU Tips for Parents of Preemies July 29, 2009

Filed under: Parenting,Preemies - Premature Babies,Twins/Multiples — Cafe Brigitte @ 1:48 am
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In the last eight years, a lot of moms have asked me how I got through the long weeks in the NICU when my twins were born (see their story here). So, I thought I would share some tips with all of you.

Our NICU did not allow parents to stay over night until the baby’s last day or two, so my husband and I had to leave every evening. While it was very hard to do, it probably was the best thing for our overall mental and physical well being. I was able to get a good night sleep (between sessions with the breast pump) and clear my head. My first tip for NICU survival is to take time everyday to leave the NICU, breathe fresh air, and live a “normal” life for a few hours. It actually helped to alleviate the sense of helplessness I had those first few weeks when the girls were too little to hold.

The second tip is to leave a disposable and an instant (Polaroid, if they are still around) camera at the baby’s bedside. With the disposable cameras we took pictures of all the milestones that took place in the NICU. The nurses will use the cameras when you aren’t there in order to document events for you too. I have a great story about pictures I got from our cameras, but I will save those for another time.

The instant camera is great for the nurses to take pictures of fun things that take place while you are away. It also allowed us to bring pictures home to share with friends same day, but digital cameras are better for that these days.

My third tip is to accept the offers of help and meals from friends. I was too hasty sometimes to turn down the offers. But a meal in the freezer after a long (and sometimes bad) day in the NICU is really what we needed. If someone offers to clean for you, let them! Doing mundane tasks helps take your mind off that sweet baby in the NICU, but coming home to a clean kitchen is a relief most days.

Fourth, find a support network. Since no one I knew had a preemie, I found an online support group at www.BabyCenter.com. The ladies who frequent that board have either gone through the same thing or are going through it. When you baby is preemie, sick, etc. you can feel alone. Everyone around you seems to be having the perfect pregnancy or has a perfect baby in her arms. Finding a group that helps you to feel supported and understood is critical.

There are more things I could share, but I will hold stop here for now. My twins were very premature, but they did not have very many complications while they were in the hospital. We were very fortunate that all the girls really needed to do was grow, but not everyone is that lucky. Every NICU situation is different and so are the parents involved. So basically you need to take your days in with your NICU baby day by day and make sure you are taking care of yourself in the process.