Categories: Neonates & Pediatrics

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: Role of Parents


Role of parents in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

In most of the cases, the parents can stay with the baby in the NICU at any time. Many instructions on special hand-washing and use of masks are given by the staff of the NICU before entering into the special zone.

Sometimes, when the hospital team is making rounds with other people, parents may be asked to wait for a few minutes before coming into that area. Mostly in NICUs, the visit limitation of the visitors is a noble idea. Because many sick and preterm babies are very at high risk of getting an infection. The siblings and other family members should be cautiously checked for signs of colds or other possible diseases and be facilitated with the washing of hands before going to see their baby brother or sister.

Sentiments and responses

Most parents find that taking part in their baby’s care gives them a sense of control. And it helps them become closer to their baby. This is also important for the baby. It helps the baby feel secure and loved. Once a baby’s condition is stable, parents are encouraged to hold him or her, especially skin-to-skin. Staff in the NICU can show you how to care for your baby in many ways. Learning these aspects of care is helpful in preparing you to take your baby home.

Having a baby in the NICU can be a shock for many parents. Few parents expect complications of pregnancy or their baby to be sick or premature. It is quite natural to have many different emotions as you try to cope with the difficulties of a sick baby.

Some common responses to the experience of having a baby in the NICU may include:

  • Shock over the unexpected birth
  • Mother’s physical weakness after birth
  • Disappointment over not having a healthy baby
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Fear about procedures and tests
  • Separation from baby
  • Anger at self and others
  • Feelings of guilt over things done or not done
  • Crying, sadness, emotional upset
  • Fears of the future, worries about long-term outcome

Feelings of parents in NICU

Parents react to these feelings in different ways. Some find it easy to talk about their concerns. Others keep their feelings inside. Some parents may not want to get close to their baby, or might want to wait to name their baby. Coping with all of these feelings and emotions is often easier with the help of support from others who have been through the same kind of thing. Be sure to ask about parent support groups and hospital staff members (for example, social workers and counselors) who can help. Most parents find that time away from the NICU can help them cope and deal with their emotions.

It is normal for parents to feel anger, guilt, sadness, or other negative emotions. But sometimes these feelings become very strong and you might need some help sorting them out. If you have these feelings longer than 2 weeks after your baby’s birth, or if they get worse, or if they keep you from caring for your baby or yourself, you need to get professional help. If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, get help right away. Call your healthcare provider and make sure they know that this is a serious problem. Or, call 911 (or your local emergency services) or go to the emergency department at your local hospital.

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