Surviving Through the NICU Journey
If you are reading this right now I’m going to assume your little one is currently in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or as it is commonly known as the NICU. I want to start by telling you that one day very soon your baby will be home with you and all the mental and emotional stress you are going through will soon end.
Giving birth to my sons honestly have been the biggest highlights of my life. I did deliver them both prematurely (34 and 33 weekers), and both of them stayed in the NICU for a little over three weeks. So, mama, I understand how you are feeling. With my first born I was completely at a loss, however with my second though still difficult it was a bit easier since I had a better understanding of what was going on and what I was able to do for him as a mother.
Let's face it no one goes through trying to conceive, finally getting that positive test, carrying for nine months to then have their baby not even come home with them after delivery. You blame yourself, you blame the doctors, but in all honesty, it’s no one's fault. Sometimes these little ones have their own agenda, and it’s ok. I wanted to share these tips on surviving through your NICU journey. Your little one needs you, and although you may feel very helpless and feel there is nothing you can do for your baby. I’m here to tell you that YOU play the most significant role of all in your babies time in NICU.
1. Get Involved right away!
Your a new mom so embracing your role is important for you and baby. Jump right on in to help with feedings, diaper changes, baths, anything the nurses will allow you to help with. This will help you feel a bit more like a “normal momma.”
2. Skin to skin
Skin to skin is so important for many reasons. With any newborn skin to skin helps with regulating temperatures, bonding, glucose stability, respiratory, and decreasing stress. These are extremely important for preemie babies as they often need more love in these areas after their early arrival. As soon as your little one is able, snuggle as often as you can. If your baby is not yet ready to be held give them tons of hand hugs. Remember preemie babies are sensitive to touch be very gentle. Don’t be afraid to ask for your skin to skin time the nurses will encourage it!
We all know breast milk is liquid gold and it’s called that for a reason. Even if you will choose not to breastfeed once your little one is home doing so while they are in NICU is really important. Having that good mommy milk will help boost their immune system help them develop a bit quicker as well as be easier on their undeveloped tummies. For you, it will give you a good feeling like you are helping your little one during a time you feel as though there is nothing you can do for them.
4. No Dr. Google
We all are guilty of using Dr. Google more times then often however during such a fragile time I suggest staying away! Every preemie is different, and ever preemie has their own developmental time frame it’s essential to focus on just your little one if you have questions or concerns do not hesitate to ask the nurses and doctors caring for your little one.
5. Talk with other Preemie Moms
One good thing about the NICU is you don’t have to look far for other moms going through a similar experience. Every momma there is feeling just like you are feeling. Don’t hesitate to meet them, ask questions, and share experiences you’ll be surprised how much better it will make you or them feel. Most NICUs also have mom support groups I suggest attending as many as you can. These groups will provide a safe place to discuss your emotions, provide resources, and education.
6. Learn The Doctors Schedule
Knowing when the doctor makes rounds is vital so that you can make yourself available for any questions you may have and receiving all the information they will throw your way each day.
7. One Day at a Time
Like I said earlier every preemie has their own developmental time table no one is the same. Every day your little one will progress at their own pace. Do not set your own goals for your baby as you may find yourself often disappointed enjoy every day individually.
8. Break Time
Remembering that your body had just gone through so much is very important. It’s totally ok to skip a day, or shorten your visit and rest! It’s a lot easier said then done, but it’s essential for you and baby that you are healing correctly and resting well.
9. Stay Busy
Since your little one came early, I’m sure there are a ton of things you still did not check off your checklist. Now is the time to get things done at the pace that works with your body. ASK FOR HELP! Finish up that nursery, install the car seat, or do, so their items are fresh and ready for when they come home!
Every step your baby takes is amazing, celebrate those steps it will make the journey more enjoyable, and your little one will appreciate the extra love!
I hope this list was able to bring some joy to your journey. That in some way gives you a positive view on your baby’s stay. I’d love to hear other NICU moms stories, leave it in the comments. You never know your story may inspire the next mom. Feel free to share this with other friends or family who may be going through this journey as well.