INDIANAPOLIS – When you’re pregnant, you think about that precious time after your child’s birth, of getting to know your baby in a place that is entirely familiar: your home. But when a baby is born prematurely, chances are the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), will be his or her first nursery, not the one you’ve so carefully prepared.
As home to south-central Indiana’s only Level III NICU, Franciscan St. Francis Health-Indianapolis cares for the smallest and sickest babies. There, your baby will be in the very best hands with round-the-clock, specialized care. Expert neonatologists, pediatricians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other professionals can help your baby become healthy and strong.
Still, some parents first find the NICU intimidating or even frightening. There is a lot of high-tech equipment on the unit. Some babies may need ventilators to breathe or feeding tubes for nourishment. Alarms may go off, and there may be a lot of activity. In addition, parents also have to absorb a flood of information about their child’s condition.
“It’s absolutely normal for parents to be anxious and worried when their child is in the NICU,” said Lori Warner, RN, director of Women & Children’s Services. “We encourage moms and dads to speak up, ask questions, let us know what their concerns are. Our staff wants to care for patients and help put parents at ease.”
Parents are strongly encouraged to provide basic care for their babies while in the NICU, staying with them as much as possible, touching or holding them, changing diapers, or tucking in blankets. When the doctor advises, parents can feed their child.