Important Questions for NICU Parents
Boom! There you are, in the middle of a new world you didn't even know existed before your baby decided to surprise you and show up early. It may be possible that you are just trying to play catch-up and knowing what or even if you can ask questions is far from your brain. Well, let's answer that one quickly; YES! Let's start by stating you are the baby's parent and questions are vital and OK to ask! So, you might be asking, "What do I ask?” or "Who do I ask?" That is one reason I decided to write this blog post. In addition to that, here are a few more questions you might want to consider asking. They may not be valid for your situation right away, but you may want to ask them further along your NICU journey.
So let's get started:
1. What does that mean?
I am encouraging you to ask questions if you don't understand something. NICU doctors and nurses use medical terms all day long and can often forget that parents may not know what they mean. It's OK to speak up if you don't know what something means. They want you to be informed about your baby. It will not offend them for you to ask to explain the terms or procedures. All of us may have experienced this same thing, I can start talking about making preemie clothes with specific medical terms and my friends and family can start looking very lost. I then have to take a step back and explain it in words more familiar to them.
I wrote a blog post,"The A-Z's of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit” that might be helpful to understanding the Doctor's lingo.
2. Build a list and keep adding to it.
Keep an ongoing list of questions. Whenever you think of something you're wondering about, I encourage you to write it down in a note or journal. Then when you are in the NICU and your nurse is around, feel free to ask away. You may find yourself drawn to one of your baby's nurses, and you build a relationship with them. This may make it easier to ask them about the procedures and all those questions you have been recording. Nurses are great resources – make sure you utilize them. To help get you started, here are some questions for to consider asking your medical team:
Some questions you might want to ask the Doctor are:
How long do you think my baby will have to stay in the NICU?
What is my baby's prognosis?
What should I expect short term? Long term?
Great questions for your nurses are:
What support services does the hospital offer for the baby and parents?
Who can I talk to about special services after my baby is released?
Is there somewhere close that I can stay, like a Ronald McDonald house?
Are there any precautions I should take to avoid infections?
3. No question is a ____________ (fill in the blank – dumb, silly, funny, unnecessary) question!
You may find the NICU and the newness of it very overwhelming. You also may be dealing with your preemie’s siblings at home or a work situation that you are trying to make adjustments for. With all the things you may be dealing with, your brain is not working on full attack mode. Let's not forget you also just had a baby! Up from down, good question or silly, it really doesn't matter. Just ask, it's better to have the answer than wishing you had asked it days later.
When can I hold my baby?
Is there a place I can pump and store my breastmilk?
Do you have a lactation consultant?
Can siblings come in and see the baby?
Are there visiting hours?
Can the monitors be adjusted?
Will my baby have the same nurses every day?
Can I bring blankets and toys to personalize their room?
When can my preemie wear clothes?
Any specific requirements for the preemie clothing?
What can I do to care for my baby?
What medicines will my baby take?
What side are effects associated with the medicines?
I am sure these are only the beginning of the questions you may end up having as a preemie parent. I want to encourage you to be brave and know it is excellent to ask questions. I spoke to one mother who told me about the day she walked into her daughter's room and the nurses had dressed her up for the very first time. She was kind of sad because if she had known, she would have loved to pick out that "first outfit." While writing this blog post, I thought about that parent and wondered if she had asked that question we posted above, "When can my preemie wear clothes?" Would she have brought that special outfit to the NICU early so that the nurses could have used it instead? So please ask away! I have also linked some of my previous blog posts that will help answer a few of your questions.
Asking questions also goes for us at the Preemie Store. If you would like assistance in choosing preemie or NICU Friendly clothing, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with us on the online chat system. We are here to help.
Thank you for reading, and ask away!