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Having a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can be very stressful. Everything in the pregnancy could have been going great and with no warning, your baby has to stay in the NICU for days or even months. Here are my ten tips for handling the situation as you await the day you can take your baby home.
1. Be nice to the nurses. They are the ones who are taking care of your baby.
2. Ask your nurses or doctors every single question you have in mind and listen to their stories. They have seen so many cases.
>> Read more: Coping With My Labor that Didn’t Go As Planned
3. If you can’t visit your baby at night, call the NICU. You will feel much better hearing about your baby.
4. When you are at the hospital, try to get involved in the feeding and diaper changes. My baby was so small I would get nervous by picking him but I began to get ahold of it. Trust me, you will feel confident when you have a nurse checking what you are doing rather than going home and having to do it for the first time.
5. If you plan to breastfeed, pump every three hours and take the pump to the hospital. My milk supply was quite different when I was pumping at home (nearly nonexistent) to almost 5 ounces when I was at the hospital near the baby.
>> Read more: Breastfeeding: A New Mama’s Guide
6. Sleep, sleep, sleep. I know having a baby in the NICU is very stressful but if you come to think about it, the baby is under the “most expensive care” you could ever afford. He is in the hospital with monitors, nurses and doctors. Remember that you have sleepless nights to come.
7. Have everything ready regardless of the doctor’s forecast. My baby was born with 33 weeks of gestation and the doctor said he would probably be in the hospital for four weeks. 17 days later, he was coming home.
8. Talk to the moms around. This is the best support group you could ever have.
9. Never, ever feel sorry about your baby. He or she is a fighter and will get through this. Babies are stronger than we give them credit for.
10. Once your baby is going home, be confident that he or she is leaving the hospital like any full term baby: healthy and strong!