Neonatal Intensive Care – hopeful and helpful tips to be prepared
No one plans to have their baby admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. With gestational carriers, we’d anticipate the likelihood of this happening is lower, due to careful selection of candidates with good obstetric histories and low risk factors for a complicated pregnancy.
However, even when ‘everything looks good’ for gestational carrier candidates, NICU admissions can occur. Sometimes, it is due to an early delivery on the part of the carrier. Other times, the pregnancy and delivery were fine and the baby has an issue that requires observation.
Regardless of the cause, becoming a parent of a baby who needs NICU attention is incredibly stressful. Forward Fertility clients who have had their baby in the NICU have found these things to be helpful:
- Advocate for the same nurse or team to care for you and your baby.
- Keep notes or a journal of the visits your baby has (and be kind to yourself: you’re not a neonatologist, so this crash course in medical terms while you’re undergoing a stressful transition yourself is going to be a challenge).
- Get sleep when you can, take turns with your partner. If you cannot sleep with the ‘noise’ of an ICU unit, stay at a hotel or a local Ronald McDonald house. It is hard to be away from your baby, but being well rested will make your presence the next day more meaningful.
- All Forward Fertility contracts between parents and gestational carriers include language about the carrier pumping breastmilk. Breastmilk is one of the best things for NICU babies. If the carrier is not able or willing to pump, most NICU facilities have frozen donor milk you can feed your baby.
Know that you’re not alone. September is Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness Month and was established in 2014 by Project Sweet Peas, a non-profit organization. Project Sweet Peas is coordinated by volunteers, who through personal experience have become passionate about providing support to families of premature or sick infants and to those who have been affected by pregnancy and infant loss. They have sent tens of thousands of support and holiday care packages to families all across America.
Project Sweet Peas can connect you with other parents who can share their experiences at the NICU through online community building in a Facebook forum.