5 Must Haves for a NICU Stay
5 Must Haves for a NICU Stay
Preparing for a NICU stay with your baby whether born premature or born with complications can be extremely stressful. I have now had 2 different NICU stays one with each of my children. Having already experienced one with my daughter the one with my son was slightly easier since I knew what to expect.
Still, having knowledge of the process doesn’t take away as much of the stress as you would hope. That is why I am creating this list of 5 Must Haves for a NICU Stay. These things can really make your stay easier and take some stress off of your shoulders.
1. Finding your resources.
This can lift the majority of the stress off of you. Sitting down and doing a little bit of research about the resources you have available to you can show you what areas you can mark off as taken care of. The hospital that you give birth at should have several people coming in and out of your room other than the doctors and nurses. The social worker, chaplin, and lactation consultants are among the visitors you will have. These people can help you in finding out what your resources are.
For my family both NICU stays were long distance so travel and gas was a challenge for us. The social worker we had with our daughter assisted us in living arrangements while she was in the hospital. The Ronald McDonald House was our main source of shelter while she was in the hospital. If you happen to be lucky enough to have this options available then take advantage of it because it helped so much. The people were extremely helpful, polite and caring. It was a light that stayed on during our struggle.
The Ronald McDonald House has over 365 locations around the world, each being independently owned. You can learn more here.
If this isn’t available to you then you can check with the hospital and see if staying in your baby's room is an option. I spent my sons NICU stay in his room with him. I was able to bring everything I needed and keep it there in the room with me. They also provided a fridge and cabinet space for the NICU families in a little kitchen area just outside the NICU area. They also had showers that you could use while you stayed there. They provide towels and soap if you needed them.
I didn't have to worry about food while I stayed in the hospital with him because I am a nursing mom. They encourage you to breastfeed your baby because it truly is what's best for your baby no matter when they were born but especially for preterm babies. If you choose to breastfeed then they provide you with breakfast, lunch, and dinner so you can get good nutritions for your milk supply. You also have access to a hospital grade pump and pump parts there as well. Talk to your lactation consultants to see if these are options available to you.
Finding your resources can assist in so many ways so just do research and find out what they have to offer you to make your stay easier.
Most hospitals have wifi so bringing your tablet or laptop can help with passing the time. I streamed a lot of Netflix and Hulu while I stayed with both of my kids. I also kept up with all of my family and my children's support groups on facebook as well. Being able to take pictures and share as well as asking for prayers helped me focus on their getting better. It also helped me keep track of their progression as well. Which brings me to my 3rd must have.
3. Notebook/NICU Memory Book
The Hospital I had my son at actually provided me with a NICU Memory Book that I could keep track of his milestones in as well as a journal area that I could write whatever I felt in there. I wish I would have had something like this with my daughters NICU stay because I struggle with remembering everything that happened while she was there just because there was so much that it's hard to keep track of. If I had had a memory book or had created my own I could look back on it whenever and see her progression. Creating a Facebook page is also another way you could keep track, but it’s more public.
4. Personal Items
Something that I enjoyed bringing was some personal items for the baby, like clothes, blankets, stuffed animals, and family pictures. These thing help feel more at home and create a less stressful environment for baby. The way you feel can translate to baby so keeping yourself as calm, stress free and comfortable as possible is what's best for the baby’s health.These items can help giving you a contributing feeling when you may feel there is little you can do. Every little thing you do for your baby is a very big thing that will aid in your baby's recovery so don’t ever feel like something is silly if it is helping you feel better about the situation.
The last and final thing that I feel is a necessity for a NICU stay is visitors. Not necessarily for the baby, but for you as a parent. Being closed in a hospital room for a lengthy period of time can feel overwhelming all in itself. Having friends or family come up to just spend a couple of hours with you in the waiting room or to get you out for lunch for a bit can help with reducing stress and stop any feelings of loneliness from becoming too much. I know that having someone with you always is not ideal because you may have other kids that need to be taken care of or in my case my husband needed to be home for work. Feeling lonely can be harder to overcome if you try and deal with it on your own. The social worker assigned to your case while in the hospital can be a good talking outlet for you if you feel you don’t have any family or friends to listen to you. Don’t ever feel ashamed to ask for help if these feelings get too far away from you to control yourself. Talk to whoever you feel you can like your doctor, the nurses, Chaplin, or social worker. These are all people who can direct you to the right place for help if they themselves can’t provide any assistance.
That concludes my list of 5 Must Haves for a NICU Stay and I hope you found something helpful in this. Leave a comment below if there is something you would add to this list that you found to be a must have in your journey.
If you or someone you know is struggling with Postpartum Depression or Baby Blues you can visit this site for more information and resources for mothers AND fathers who are struggling.
© 2018 Aaren Murphy