NICU graduates are some of the most amazing and resilient babies. They're
also some of the most fragile, and it can be tough to bring them home
from the hospital and into a new environment. Your family has endured
a challenging time, but with a little help from the experts, bringing
home your newest family member can be a little easier. Our team of Neonatal
Intensive Care Unit Nurses at CaroMont Regional Medical Center share their
best tips for making sure your NICU graduate has a smooth transition home:
Prepare as much as you can in advance.
The last few days, weeks or months in the NICU have likely been very stressful.
Every parent looks forward to leaving the hospital with their newborn,
but in your case, this time of your life has been a rollercoaster.
Before discharge day, double check you have what you need to bring your
new baby home. This includes a safe car seat, a safe place for your baby
to sleep, diapers, formula (if you don’t plan to breastfeed), clothing
that fits and any medication or equipment that was prescribed and/or recommended
to your baby. Those are the most important items for your NICU graduate’s health.
It is likely you will forget something. Everyone does. Be kind to yourself
and ask for help.
Understand controllable risk factors.
It’s easy to worry about every little thing, from the temperature
of your baby’s room to whether someone will ring the doorbell during
nap time. Remember you cannot control everything, even in your own home.
One risk you can control is your little one’s risk of infection.
For the first two weeks after discharge, NICU graduates should stay at
home with minimal visitors. Public places carry a higher risk of infection,
and the more people in any given space increases the likelihood of illness
In your own home, visitors should be limited for the first two weeks. And
every visitor who interacts with your child should practice good hand
hygiene. It is also critically important that friends or family who are
sick, have recently been sick or are currently experiencing any symptoms
of illness, should forgo a visit until they are symptom free.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Every child is unique, and your NICU graduate is going to need some extra
care. Ask friends and family if they can help with meals or transportation
while your new baby adjusts to life at home. Your pediatrician can recommend
a lactation consultant who can give a professional opinion on how best
to feed the baby, based on their specific needs.
Once you've settled into a routine as parents of a preemie, it's
easy to get overwhelmed by all there is to learn about caring for this
very special little person in your life. Don't be afraid to reach
out for help—your doctor will most likely have some suggestions
on lots of topics.
Get support from a doctor who knows your baby's history.
If you don’t already know who your pediatrician will be, get a recommendation
from your NICU team. It is important to ensure that your baby’s
doctor understands their medical history, so as they continue to grow
and thrive, you have the support you need.
It is also important to understand what your baby’s follow-up care
after leaving the NICU should be. Take notes or ensure another person
is involved in the discharge conversations. Doing so will help you remember
the important details, or rely on someone else who can help you remember.
One of the most important tips I give every new mother is to look after
yourself and get the post-partum care you need. Your family has been through
a lot and you both need and deserve the same attention and care as your
incredible new baby.
Congratulations! Our NICU family is cheering for you and your family! We
know you can do it.
The Birthplace at CaroMont Regional Medical Center is a world-class birthing
center featuring 52 labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum (LDRP) rooms,
three C-section operating suites, a 16-bed single-room Neonatal Intensive
Care Unit (NICU), a family dining area, children’s play area and
family resource center.
Learn more about welcoming your new addition at The Birthplace.
Contributors: April Hullender, MSN, RNC-NIC; Brittany Welch, RN; Andrea
Turner, RN; Holly Roberts, RN; Wendi Benfield, RN; Heidi Postell, RN