Taking Care of Your NICU Baby
Parents often feel helpless and overwhelmed while having a child in the NICU. At UVA, we encourage you to be part of your baby's healthcare team and discuss care and treatment options.
The NICU is open to parents 24 hours a day. You may visit any time it's convenient for you. There may be times when the NICU is unavailable due to procedures or interventions, but we do our best to accommodate all families. The Klockner Family Suite is also available for parents to "room-in" and take care of their child before discharge.
Parents may bring family members and friends to the bedside. Siblings may visit with parents. We ask that any person with a fever or symptoms of an infection stay outside the NICU.
You can continue to learn about your infant's personality while they are very small or sick in the NICU. Babies can continue to learn about their very special relationship with their parents, too.
- Ask questions: Ask about the equipment, your baby's medical condition or your baby's care.
- Be involved: Ask your baby’s nurses how you can participate in your baby’s care, such as changing diapers, giving baths and feeding.
- Get to know your baby: Your baby has a unique personality. Spend time getting to know your baby's personal preferences by watching their reactions to your voice and your touch.
- Pump breast milk: Though many premature or critically ill babies are not able to breastfeed right away, mom's milk is vital to your baby's growth and development. Breast milk has also been shown to reduce the risk of infection in babies requiring NICU care. That's why, even if you had not planned to breastfeed, you are encouraged to pump breast milk.
- Comforting sounds: Your baby will be comforted by the sound of your voice. Read to your baby. Make recordings of soothing music or of mom and dad talking softly to the baby.
- Soothing touch: Offer comfort to your baby through gentle touches on the head, hands or legs. Watch the baby’s reaction to find out which touches he prefers.
- Make your baby’s space feel like home: Take pictures and videos, bring booties, blankets, clothes and even family photographs.
- Be there: Visit as often as you can. The Klockner Family Suite is available for parents to "room-in" and take care of their child before discharge. These rooms, with a private bathroom, fridge, bed and television, allow parents to care for their baby with the added benefit of knowing that staff are nearby if questions or concerns arise.
- Practice Kangaroo Care: Hold your baby skin-to-skin (baby in a diaper against mom or dad's bare chest).
Changes in Your Baby’s Condition
As your infant's condition stabilizes she may be moved to a different bed spot in the NICU or we may talk to you about moving your baby to a hospital in your community.
Protection of Privacy and Confidentiality
Since you may not always be with your infant while in the NICU we have developed guidelines to protect your family's and baby’s privacy and uphold confidentiality.
As your baby’s parents and/or guardians you will be given your baby’s UVA medical history number that you will use when calling and visiting. We also ask that parents and guardians carry some form of identification when visiting.