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18 Mar '18

What is a NICU?

Posted by Sandra Sosa

Perhaps you have heard about a baby taken to a NICU, but what is it?

Well, if you have heard so, probably that baby had some kind of problem requiring special care, but don't worry, a NICU is the best place to be if that happened.

NICU is the acronym for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. A high specialized unit where a highly trained team works each minute, 24/7 to take care of newborn babies with special needs.

No matters if it was a preterm birth, a low weight baby or if there's any kind of infection; when a newborn needs special health care, continuous monitoring and high tech life support, at the NICU the problem will be solved.

This unit is not intended to receive all newborn babies, but only with very special health needs. A baby requiring oxygen because respiratory distress, or those Neonatal Intensive Care Unitneeding phototherapy due to neonatal jaundice are usually admitted to the NICU.

Same occurs with septic babies as well those needing special feed methods such as a feeding tube. They are admitted to the NICU where the required technology, tools and materials are available to provide proper care for these babies with special needs.

On the other hand, those cases of newborn babies requiring surgery during the first 30 days of life, usually are admitted to the NICU before and after surgery.

NICU staff is composed by doctors specialized on Neonatology, neonatal care specialized nurses as well many technicians specially trained to work with very small, delicate and fragile babies.

A NICU is never without personnel, instead, there's a lot of movement day and night, every single day of the year. There's no time for rest since these babies require a lot of attention and hard job to guarantee a good outcome; hence there's always personnel on duty.

Depending of NICU size, there can be two or more neonatologist  plus one nurse per baby.

On this unit, babies are hold on incubators. A sort of closed cradle intended to isolate the baby from the outside world while providing warm.

During NICU stay the baby will have one or more venous accesses, sometimes a feeding tube (depending of each case) and a myriad of sensors to monitor body temperature, respiratory and hearth rate as well blood pressure.

The aim of this unit is to provide high specialized care 24 hours a day; feed babies with special needs and dose medicines according to each case.

In addition, the available staff and equipment are prepared to handle any emergency situation arisen during hospitalization.

For parents is very hard to leave their newborn baby on third parties' hands, but in some delicate, life threaten situations is the best choice; in fact, neonatal deaths decline dramatically in hospitals where a NICU is available.

The hardest part for parents when a newborn baby is hospitalized at the NICU is that they can't be with their baby all day long, instead there are specific visit hours when parents may see their baby during certain time.

Certainly that's not the happiest situation but thinking about baby's well being; it's a small sacrifice to assure the best possible outcome on a very dangerous situation.

If you know someone whose baby is currently at the NICU, provide as most emotional support as you can; it will be very valuable for those parents who are very concerned right now about their baby's future.

On the other hand, if your own baby is now on a NICU, try to be strong, the storm will pass and thereafter you will have plenty of time to enjoy your baby; meanwhile, think that's the best choice to provide the best available care to your little baby.


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