When the baby is in the NICU - Guidelines for parents

The rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic has caused particular concern for pregnant women and newborns.

When the baby is in the NICU - Guidelines for parents
Dr. Parimala V Thirumalesh.

Authored by Dr. Parimala V Thirumalesh, Sr. Consultant - Neonatology & Paediatrics, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore
The rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic has caused particular concern for pregnant women and newborns. The phase is challenging, but for parents, there might be a small positive ray of hope. There are many factors, which influence premature births, and getting a new life by fighting against all odds is a miracle.
NICU is like an artificial womb where hardly any visitors are allowed as it will lead to infection. It is equally important to ensure that the hospital is safe and sanitized for its patients. We should wash our hands frequently before touching the baby. Additionally, we should wash and iron the clothes before putting it on the baby or alternatively use the hospital clothes as they are sterilized.
Few tips for the parents:
Mothers Milk is the best medicine
Mother’s Milk is the best medicine for the baby so keep expressing your milk for present and future use. Milk can be frozen even for six months. Colostrum or the first milk drops are rich in fighting cells and boost your baby’s immunity.
Communication and information
Parents should build communication with the staff, nurses, and doctors for caring for their child. Additionally, parents should ask queries at any time if they feel. Questions like, ‘Is my baby getting better?’ ‘What are the next short-term goals?’ ‘What are the biggest current issues?” are a few essential questions to ask for clarification. You can sing a song and spend some time with your babies as they can hear and feel your touch even if preterm.
Create a balanced routine to be with your baby
Schedule a routine during your day or week to see your child. Additionally, track down alternate ways of holding with your child, changing a diaper, or soothing them. Do not feel guilty or sad or upset seeing your baby they can sense your emotions be as cheerful as possible and send positive vibes to your baby who is fighting hard.
Don’t forget to celebrate
Though overwhelmed with stress but it is equally important to celebrate every positive moment as well. A small journal or scrapbook about their time in the NICU.
Surround yourself with those who provide positive and sympathetic support
It’s important to accept help and support from family members or friends who can ease the routine burdens of your life or provide emotional support. However, might be difficulties attempting to clarify everything happening with your child to others whether relatives or companions basically due to the intricacy and uniqueness of the circumstance. Prematurity is at times a complex issue and seeking help from people who have had similar experiences in the past can be very helpful.
Take time for yourself
The more drained you are, the more troublesome and disappointing the entire circumstance can appear, particularly for parents who have numerous responsibilities such as kids at home. Being with your infant is a primal instinct for parents but it is advisable to take breaks from hospitals and ensure they take care of their needs as well.
Don’t panic or get scared
As a parent, you might get tensed when your baby gets the food/fluids through a tube and also an air pipe to breathe. Do not be scared as this support is needed artificially which the umbilical cord would have provided inside the womb. Similarly, avoid looking into the monitor and charts as it will only increase your anxiety.
Avoid Noise and photos with a flashlight
Avoid too much noise in NICU as babies perceive noise as a painful stimulus and avoid clicking photos with flash as it is harmful to the baby’s eyes.