NICU Family Support

The day a NICU family goes home from the hospital, without the weight of their new baby in their arms, is a day not easily forgotten. I still remember the morning I left the hospital after my son’s preterm birth: with a commercial breast pump, a NICU wristband and no baby. Ten-weeks, several blood transfusions and a minor surgery later… I finally brought my baby home.

With all of the ‘how to’ about childbirth and parenting circulating online and in our communities, it is almost shocking we don’t share in equal measure what happens after coming home alone – baby-less – or what happens when you do everything ‘right’ according to ‘experts’ and your birth still unfolds in a way never anticipated.

This is where support from a Postpartum Doula may have a major impact on providing emotional support for families. We are present as non-medical, non-judgmental support. We provide evidence-based information, emotional support and referrals for the entire family. We mother the mother and educate the family in the best ways to nurture themselves after the birth of their baby.

A turning point for me during the first week home after my son’s birth, was when my Birth Doula came over and we watched a video together about Kangaroo Care. I hadn’t even held my son yet, but I remember the hope I felt inside when the video ended.

Common concerns and questions from NICU Families:

How may a mother recover from her birth while attending to the needs of her infant in the hospital?

How may the family and newborn bond when they pass so many days and hours apart from one another?

Will my baby know me when the nurses care for them so many hours and I only visit?

Must I visit my baby in the hospital every day?

Will I be able to breastfeed? Do I have to breastfeed?

What happens when I bring my baby home?

These are questions that may be answered in a myriad of ways.  As Doulas, we guide families to the resources which; support their decision-making, feelings, ideas, beliefs and goals as a family.

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The Golden Hour

NICU and Preemie Kangaroo Care

The Golden Hour is the uninterrupted skin-to-skin time experienced by mother and baby in the hour immediately following birth.

As mothers of preemies, we often wait for days, and sometimes weeks to hold our babies for the first time.

And though we’ve waited, when the time comes for us to revisit the golden hour we missed following our births, we feel just as bonded to our babies, and the moment is equally unforgettable.

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Preemie Doula Care

Navigating the NICU

A Glossary

Whether you’ve just had your first child, or your fifth, every birth and every baby is different. Even under ideal circumstances, labor and delivery can have its challenges. When your infant arrives very early, or has health complications, this experience can intensify.Navigating the NICU: A Glossary

If your newborn needs acute medical assistance or observation, they are admitted to the hospital’s NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) where they will be carefully monitored 24 hours a day by a specialized team of nurses and life-saving machines. Parents are released for home, and quickly learn to juggle hospital visiting hours, regular life, work and the many unknowns involved when your baby is in the hospital.

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Overcoming Infant Loss and the NICU

Overcoming Infant Loss and the NICU

Priscilla Blossom

Priscilla is a survivor of infant loss and the mother of a NICU graduate. Her wish is for all women to experience complication free births. We met via social media where we’ve been following each other for years. She posted something for NICU Awareness Month and I asked her if she would share her family’s story and she agreed.

Overcoming Infant Loss and the NICU

Her first baby, her daughter, only lived a few hours after being born unexpectedly preterm at 22-weeks gestation. William, her second baby, was born full term at 40-weeks gestation and experienced meconium aspiration during his birth. He went on to spend 2-months in the NICU recovering from this and persistent pulmonary hypertension. Today he’s a healthy, happy and thriving 4-year-old.

Nothing tops the kinship you feel when you connect with someone who’s had the same or similar childbirth experience. Reading her story brought back so many of my own memories of progesterone shots and nights in the NICU. I can relate to the triumph of achieving a full-term pregnancy, after a preterm birth, only to have it end in a second complicated delivery.

We share this story in solidarity to highlight the experiences of families that have also coped with infant loss, preterm birth and having a baby in the NICU.

How did you handle being pregnant after the loss of your first baby, a preemie? 

Honestly, not that well. I knew from the moment I lost my first baby that I needed some serious mental health care. Though I went untreated since I didn’t have stable insurance or general access to any practitioners. So when I got pregnant again, I was extremely nervous and anxious all the time. I had flashbacks to my loss, especially whenever I had to go to the doctor and do ultrasounds. And I allowed my PTSD to kind of consume me at times. I became hell-bent on being able to control every single aspect of the birth.

I had a great OB/GYN but I disliked the hospital she delivered at, they had a higher c-section rate and were not very flexible on allowing mothers freedom and choice during childbirth. So I found a Doula thinking she might be able to help, but she was part of a group of doulas and midwives who were very pushy about natural birth and home birth. They swore that I could do this birth at home with a new midwife and I was coerced into leaving my OB/GYN and it did not turn out well. During labor, my son got stuck and we had to have an emergency transfer. Thank goodness, because he aspirated meconium and had persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN), which the midwife would not have been prepared to manage during a homebirth.

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