Miracles happen in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It is not something that anyone expects to find. Many people wonder about the bonding at the NICU.
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The NICU isn’t the place you want to imagine your baby’s first days. However, 10-15% of newborns spend time in NICU. As parents attempt to manage a medical situation and bond with their baby, it can be confusing and frightening. This struggle was real for me when I worked in the NICU.
These are our top tips for bonding at the NICU.
(If you have questions about the best treatment for your baby, please speak with your baby’s doctor.
1. Visit whenever you can.
Your presence can make a difference in the development of your baby and help you feel more confident as a parent. It is so important to spend time with your baby in the NICU.
2. Learn the cues of your baby.
Even the smallest babies can give clues as to their mood in any given moment. You can pick up on your baby’s cues while you visit. This will allow you to tell if they are overstimulated, calm and ready to interact with others, hungry, tired, or hungry.
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3. Participate in the care of your baby.
You can still be involved in your child’s life while you are there.
Your medical team will gladly show you how to care for your baby, and help you to meet his or her needs. This is a great opportunity to learn from professionals who take care of tiny babies every day. Parents who have spent time in the NICU agree that this is a valuable experience. They receive individual instruction from healthcare professionals. This is a wonderful gift for parents new to the area.
4. Meet your baby at his or her developmental stage.
This world offers stimulation that some tiny babies are not ready for. Talk to your healthcare team to learn more about your baby’s medical and developmental needs so you can determine the best way to interact with them. You can love your baby even if he or she is not ready to hear the world.
You can hold your baby if he or she is comfortable. The NuRoo shirt is great for covering your baby while still practicing skin-to-skin care. If your baby is not ready to touch skin-to-skin but can feel your hands on their body, you can gently place your hands on them. Do not rub or tickle your baby as it can cause overstimulating. Touch can play a significant role in your baby’s development and growth. You can ask your baby’s team for help in determining what is most effective.
5. You are the best parent for your baby.
The NICU has many healthcare professionals that can help you and your baby. These professionals may appear to have a complete understanding of your baby and his needs. You may feel overwhelmed. Maybe you feel overwhelmed. Maybe the nurse can calm you down more quickly than you can. Perhaps you are still struggling to change that diaper. These are new strategies that you need to learn, and your baby’s medical team has the expertise to help you practice them every day. Your baby’s health is not less important because of the expertise of your doctors and nurses.
6. Keep reminders with you while you’re away
You can support your baby while you are away from home in the NICU by having something with your scent placed in their isolette/bassinet. In the early days of your baby’s life, smell is one of their strongest senses. This can be done by placing an object, such as a blanket, cloth article, or swaddle blanket, on your baby’s bed. It can be placed underneath or near the baby, depending on the situation. A comfort item such as this panda bear, which is designed for use in NICU, is another option.
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7. When you leave, take mementos about your baby.
It is a good idea to keep reminders of your baby near so that you can foster a bond with them. Although you may not be able take your baby home, you can still take a photo of your baby on your fridge, on your phone or watch videos of visits. You can also take a small piece of the baby’s clothes home with you. These reminders are great for moms who plan to breastfeed or nursing. It can help with feelings of letdown.
8. This is an important part of the story of your baby.
Many families find it helpful to record their baby’s time in the NICU through journaling or scrapbooking, either digitally or in printed form.
It can feel tender, or even painful at times to take photos or journal about your experiences. You should document everything you can, and only do this when you are able. If you don’t feel up to documenting, you can ask someone to assist you by taking photos or writing memories. These memories will be a part of your family’s history as well as your baby’s, and you will be so grateful to have them documented.
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9. Give yourself so much grace.
You are not alone if you feel anxious or overwhelmed. It’s normal to feel sad or confused. These are normal emotions. Congratulations on the birth of your baby! Moms are recovering from major events. New parents experience many emotions and concerns. Having a baby in the NICU can bring on new challenges that you might not have considered before.