The NICU can be a Difficult Place
The NICU can be a difficult place for parents. The uncertainty of their baby’s condition and not knowing how long their baby will need to stay can leave the couple feeling overwhelmed. However, there are ways parents can continue to bond with their baby and get through the time their baby will be in the NICU.
Many couples may begin to blame themselves or feel disbelief when their baby is placed in the NICU, so it is crucial that they have a strong support system. When Andrea noticed that her son made an odd noise while breathing after birth, a nurse at the hospital was not convinced there was a problem. After her son was placed in the NICU for breathing problems, she began to feel guilty and afraid. “I was absolutely terrified. … I just couldn’t believe it. … You just don’t expect these things to happen to a full-term baby and seeing that he was the biggest baby in there should have been a comfort to me but it wasn’t at all. I started to feel so guilty… like maybe if I had made that nurse listen to me that he wouldn’t be in the NICU and later on I went through a time where I blamed myself for his problems. … The only way I made it through that time was because of my husband’s support,” said Andrea.
Couples will need to support each other during the time their baby is in the NICU, but they may also need additional support from therapy groups or by speaking with a counselor. Andrea found support through other parents in the NICU who could relate to what she and her husband were going through. She said, “Finding friends in the other parents who were there going through a lot of the same things really helped as well and made it all seem a little less lonely.”
It is important for parents to ask questions, such as why their baby must be in the NICU, what treatments their baby needs, and how long their baby will be there. Parents will also need to find out who can visit, when visiting times are, and if they can stay at the hospital with their baby. Moms may also want to ask if they can bottle or breastfeed their baby. Moms who want to breastfeed may receive a pump from the hospital, so they can express milk for their baby. Parents can also ask to speak with a social worker on staff for help locating resources, such as support groups or counseling services. After leaving the NICU, some moms suggest finding support services that will come to the family’s home, such as Help Me Grow in Ohio, which provides help with developmental delays and provides support to parents.
Building a Bond
Building a bond with a baby in the NICU can seem difficult; however, parents can learn ways to bond with their baby by following tips from other parents who have been through a similar situation.