These items and tips helped me survive 113 days!
When a baby is born prematurely or with a medical condition that requires specialized care, it may need to be admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This can be stressful and overwhelming for parents, as they may be away from home and their newborn for an extended time. I had to drive an hour a day, every day for 113 days to be with my little one. However, there are several things that parents can bring to the NICU to make their stay more comfortable and to help them feel more connected to their baby.
One of the most important things to bring is your phone. Parents will likely want to take lots of pictures of their baby, which can be used to create a memory book or share with family and friends who may not be able to visit the NICU. It’s also a good idea to bring a small notebook and pen to take notes on the baby’s progress and any instructions from the medical staff. This will help parents keep track of their baby’s milestones and the care they are receiving, and they can also use it to ask questions or raise concerns with the medical staff.
Another important item to bring is a comfortable set of clothes and a jacket or sweater. NICUs tend to be kept at a cool temperature for the babies’ comfort, so parents will want to dress in layers. It’s also a good idea to bring a pair of comfortable shoes, as parents may be spending a lot of time standing or walking around the unit. Parents may also want to bring a change of clothes and a few essentials in a travel bag for mom or dad like a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, and soap, as they may have to stay overnight in the NICU.
A few other items that can be helpful to bring to the NICU include:
Books, journals, or magazines to pass the time and keep yourself occupied during long wait hours. You can also bring some books to read to your little one. This gives them the assurance of your voice, and it helps stimulate them, in a positive way. You can start building their book collection and bring some in at a time, or you can just read from a smart device. Sometimes I used the kindle books on my tablet to read to my daughter.
And the most important items to have in the NICU with you are:
hand sanitizer and moisturizer because the constant washing of your hands will dry them out and they will become dry and cracked. You must make sure you keep the germs away so your baby, and other babies can avoid “bad germs”. I love these hand sanitizers because I can hook them onto my clothing and always have it with me.
But Most Importantly...
It’s also important for parents to be prepared for the NICU experience emotionally. Parents may experience a wide range of emotions including fear, guilt, and sadness. It’s important to remember that these feelings are normal and that they can reach out to the medical staff, social workers, and support groups for help.
In summary, when a baby is admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit, parents may want to have a charged phone, or camera to take pictures of the baby, a notebook and pen to take notes on the baby’s progress, comfortable clothes, comfortable shoes, personal hygiene items, a blanket or pillow from home, books or magazines, a phone charger, and power bank, snacks and water bottle or other drinks. Parents need to be prepared for the NICU experience emotionally and reach out for help when needed. Remember that parents are an important part of the baby’s care team and to be involved as much as possible.