Having a baby in neonatal intensive care can be stressful, exhausting, and upsetting. Having the support system in place to get through this difficult time is something that is vitally important, and you can lay the foundations before your baby is even born.
Preparing for the Possibility
Before your baby is due, think about the chance that your baby could go to NICU. It’s unlikely, but it’s always better to mentally prepare for different outcomes that could occur when your baby makes their entrance into the world.
If you have already been told that your baby is likely to go to NICU after they are born, research the reasons why and what the likely treatments will be. It can be hard to read about difficulties your baby may experience, but ultimately it will give you more time to process any difficult news before it happens, and you will already understand what is happening when your baby begins to receive treatment.
Organisation and Routine
Once your baby is already in NICU, it’s time to come up with a plan to make sure that your days are organised and follow a reliable pattern. Having a schedule or a routine that you can fall back on can help you to get through each day, and can also help you to avoid decision fatigue by having large parts of your week planned in advance.
Make sure that each week you leave time for yourself to relax and recharge. Your baby needs you to be there to support him or her, and you can only give your best support if you are rested and have the energy to give. From a healthcare perspective, the nurses and doctors will encourage you to spend time with your baby and to get to know him or her by engaging with the baby’s care. A legal specialist that works with cases of negligence in medical care that parents of babies receiving specialist neonatal care can expect to be encouraged and supported to be actively involved in planning and providing care. This is important for your baby’s health and wellbeing, and is also something that the hospital staff are trained to do to ensure that your baby thrives.
Finding Support Around You
Another critically important step to take is to establish a good support network. Talk to friends and family about what you are going through, and make sure that they are prepared to help in practical ways. With any luck they will help you without you needing to say a word, but if they are not so proactive you can still ask them to do specific tasks that will make your day-to-day life easier.
Get to know the nurses and doctors in the hospital who are treating your baby, as they will be the ones who are closest in many ways to what you are going through. There will be other parents with children also in the NICU at the same time as you, so reaching out to other parents at the hospital is also a possibility, though be careful not to disturb anyone if they don’t seem open to it. Finally, joining Facebook or other online support groups can be a great way to find people who understand what you’re going through, even if nobody in your geographic area is around to help.
Getting through your baby’s time in NICU will take some organisation and grit, but with careful planning and a good support system, you will be able to come out the other side in the best way possible.