As neonatal care has become more common in hospitals around the country, it is likely not surprising to learn that these hospitals have focused on building out their neonatal intensive care unit, also commonly known as NICU. The NICU is dedicated to helping infants who are born with serious health concerns or had a particularly difficult birth and provides the biggest needs to infants. While it can be a difficult situation to deal with an infant in NICU as a parent, there are important things to know about how the unit functions that can help parents. 

Interacting With Your Infant

Most hospitals that include a NICU will allow parents of an infant to visit them on a daily basis, giving them the opportunity to spend time together and build their relationship. Additionally, the time that parents spend with their infant in the NICU can help them learn more about how their baby interacts, what touches they enjoy, and what types of needs they might have. 

Before entering, parents will be required to thoroughly wash their hands and may have to wear protective gowns provided by the hospital, as this can help prevent the spread of germs in the NICU. The rules surrounding holding infants will vary based on the infant’s health condition, as well as if the mother will be breastfeeding the infant. While each situation will differ from one another, these are the most common rules to be aware of if your infant is in the NICU.

The Different Types Of Medical Equipment

Depending on the condition of the infant upon entering the NICU, some medical equipment will be required to help treat the infant. As a result, it will be helpful for parents to understand the different types of medical equipment and what they are used for. Some of the most common pieces of equipment include:

  • Infant warmers: infant warmers help keep the baby warm while in the NICU
  • Incubators: Incubators help a baby maintain its body temperature through a controlled environment
  • Ventilators: A ventilator helps a baby breathe if they are struggling to breathe on their own, without assistance 
  • Monitors: A NICU will contain a variety of monitors to help keep track of important body functions like heartbeat and oxygen levels
  • IVs: Some babies may need an IV to help provide fluids and nutrients while in the NICU

By getting a better understanding of what your infant needs while in the NICU, you can provide the help and support needed to help your baby thrive.