Hints and Tips from other parents

  • Try to learn all you can about the medical equipment, medical conditions and staff who are helping to care for your baby. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, the NICU and SCN staff have a wealth of knowledge and are there to help you.
  • Put together an expressing kit to take with you wherever you go. Include sterile containers your labels and a pen. Keep together in a cooler bag, ready for use. Don’t forget to take your pump with you.
  • Ask to spend time having cuddles, don’t wait for it to be offered. Kangaroo care can help your baby maintain a stable heart and breathing rate, and develop better both physically and mentally.
  • The NICU can be a very noisy place and the equipment’s alarms may drive you crazy at first. You will eventually learn to tune them out and understand that there are many false alarms.
  • Spend time reading stories to your baby. Your baby has spent months in-utero listening to your voice and it can be a truly special time for the both of you to share.
  • Keep a journal of your baby’s progress and your feelings while you are in the NICU. Journals become a great keepsake and you will be able to look at it and see how far your child has come. You can include information such as;
    • Weights and measurements
    • Vital signs such as heart rate and oxygen saturation
    • Feeds
    • Medications
    • Graduations such as moving from Level 3 to Level 2 or coming off a ventilator to CPAP
    • Tests or procedures
    • How you and baby were feeling
    • Try to write down all your baby’s “firsts”
      • First touch
      • First cuddle
      • First time you do your baby’s “cares” e.g. change their nappy
      • First time wearing clothes
      • First time you heard a cry
      • First time you could breast feed or bottle feed
      • First time you see your baby’s face with no tubes
      • First real bath
  • Say “hello” to other parents in the NICU or SCN and make time to chat with each other. The friendships and support networks formed in hospital will be a great comfort once you have been discharged as well.
  • Ask if you can keep mementos such as your baby’s first hospital bracelet, a (clean!) tiny sized nappy, phototherapy mask, old leads and blood pressure cuff – in time you will look back and wonder how it was ever too big for them.
  • If your baby’s bedding is being changed, you may be able to help the nursing staff and have a hold of your baby too. You could place your hands in the humidicrib and lift your baby up in two hands while their bedding is changed by the nurse. It may only be for a very short time, but this is often the first time a NICU parent gets to hold their baby and it will become a treasured memory.
  • Take lots of photographs and video footage of your baby. Some parents take pictures of their baby next to an item ­– such as mum or dad’s wedding band on the baby’s wrist or arm. This will give people an idea of your baby’s size later on.
  • Ask if you can take some hand/footprints if your baby is stable enough. You may also be able to arrange to have hand and foot casts made.
  • Some units allow you to provide your own clothes when the baby is stable enough to be dressed. For most mums, seeing their baby dressed for the first time is a truly memorable moment.
  • NICUs and SCNs can be very warm so remember to dress appropriately. It is wise to avoid wearing long-sleeved clothing as you will be required to wash your hands and arms many times throughout your visit.
  • Be as much of an active participant in your baby's day as you can, it’s all part of the preparation for graduation day.  
  • Keep yourself healthy, especially if you're in for the long haul, you will need the stamina.
  • The routine hand washing can leave your hands very dry and cracked in a short amount of time. Invest in a good hand cream to help with dry hands and keep a hand sanitiser in your purse to use after you touch money, handrails, etc.
  • Celebrate every step and milestone however big or small. Your baby may have finally reached 1kg, come of CPAP or been in hospital 100 days. Photos, video footage, balloons or even a cake for those extra big events.
  • Leaving your baby in hospital can be a very emotional time. Do whatever it takes to help you feel okay, even if that means calling the hospital numerous times a night to check how your baby is doing. Be open to telling people you aren't coping or how you are REALLY feeling - you need the support too.
  • Talk to your baby's nurses to organise a schedule so you can have regular time with your baby. You can phone the staff each morning to find out how your baby has been and what time the feeds are likely to be that day.
  • Some units allow you to provide your own clothes when the baby is stable enough to be dressed. For most mums, seeing their baby dressed for the first time is a truly memorable moment.
  • If your unit has a parent’s room, make use of it to read, watch television and chat with other parents.
  • If you feel you need a break from visitors, don’t feel guilty. Those that love you will understand so don’t be afraid to tell them when you need some space.
  • While your baby is sleeping, spend time just watching them. Observing their facial expressions and activities will help you to get to know your baby and their little personality.
  • Most units have a room set aside for expressing or breastfeeding. It is a wonderful place to spend time chatting with other mums who are going through the same experience as you.
  • Get as much rest as possible, try to drink plenty of water and eat well.
  • Take a short break away from the unit with a walk around the hospital campus or a quiet cuppa in the cafeteria.
  • If people ask what they can do for you - cooked meals! A hearty meal after a long day at the hospital helps keep you healthy, maintain your milk supply, and people who care for you feel like they are doing something useful.
  • Above all, try and stay positive and be kind to yourself.
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