What is a NICU?
Newborn babies who need intensive medical attention are admitted to our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) which is located inside the Birth Center. The NICU combines advanced technology and trained health care professionals to provide specialized care for our patients in need.
When a baby enters the world, many body systems change dramatically from the way they functioned during fetal life:
- The lungs must breathe air.
- The cardiac and pulmonary circulation changes.
- The digestive system must begin to process food and excrete waste.
- The kidneys must begin working to balance fluids and electrolytes in the body and excrete waste.
- The liver and immunologic systems must begin functioning independently.
Being born prematurely, having a difficult delivery or birth defects can make these changes more challenging. Fortunately for these babies, special newborn care is available.
What to Expect
On the day your baby is admitted to the NICU, we like to begin thinking about the day you will take your baby home. We want you to start talking, singing, and reading to your baby as soon as your baby is stable. If possible, we would like you to join in the baby’s care by changing the baby’s diaper, taking the baby’s temperature, and talking with the nurse about your baby’s care. We will teach you special things you need to know about your baby before you take him or her home using videos, demonstrations, and written discharge instructions that will also include your baby’s follow-up appointments. Prior to discharge you will watch the infant CPR video and be allowed to ask questions and practice CPR skills.
The staff of the NICU looks at many factors to determine when a baby can go home. All signs are positive when your baby:
- No longer requires oxygen
- Takes all feedings by mouth
- Maintains his/her temperature in an open bed
By visiting your baby regularly, you can work with our staff in planning for your baby to go home. Our staff is available to answer your questions, and we want you to understand everything we are doing for your baby. We encourage parents to visit their baby often and interact with the staff to learn more about the baby’s condition and care.
In this Medical Minute, Dr. Roland Boyd, Neonatologist, explains how the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) provides specialized care for our tiniest patients.