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parent’s guide to NICU

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
Expectant parents don’t typically intend to use our neonatal intensive care unit. But when a child is born with complications that require skilled neonatal care, our NICU provides immediate access to a sophisticated healing environment. As a state-designated Level III perinatal center, we're specially equipped to stabilize and provide intense nursing care for critically ill infants, those who need surgery, as well as those who need monitoring because of premature birth, a low birth weight or other complications.

Within the NICU at Good Samaritan Hospital, specialists care for more than 275 infants annually. This advanced nursery has the specially trained staff and latest technology to provide the highest level of care to the most critically ill infants, 24 hours a day.

We provide broadened visiting privileges to parents of infants in the NICU, and encourage them to spend as much time with their newborn as they would like, to support normal development and bonding and give their baby hands-on care.

Parent’s Guide to the NICU
We understand the admission of your newborn to the NICU can be stressful. Nurses and physicians want you to feel welcome any time of the day or night. Our NICU is a large open room with a number of families being cared for at any one time. Therefore, we ask that you please respect the privacy of other families in the NICU as we care for your infant.

A calm, quiet atmosphere and sleep are crucial for the growth and development of your baby. Nursing care is provided at intervals where all the needed care--diaper changes, assessments, feedings, and any other necessary interventions—are provided at one time. This is called cluster care, and it is intended to provide prolonged rest periods for your baby.

Your Role In a Healthy Partnership
As a partner in the care of your baby, you can help us provide the best care possible in the NICU. Taking part in nurse bedside shift report is one way you can be a partner. During bedside shift report, the nurses going off and coming on duty meet at your baby’s bedside to talk about his or her care. This gives you an opportunity to meet the nurse taking over your baby’s care, ask questions, and share important information. Nurse bedside shift report does not replace conversations with a physician such as the neonatologist.

Visiting the NICU
Two people per baby are allowed at the bedside at all times. At least one person must be banded with the infant’s identification band number to be allowed entrance to the unit. Siblings of the baby are allowed in the unit regardless of age, unless otherwise stated.

Adult visitors and their children over age 12 are welcome day and night, with the exception of our report times of:

  • 7-8am
  • 3-4pm
  • 7-8pm
  • 11pm-midnight

How Infants Communicate
Infants communicate by crying. Often times an infant continues to cry after he or she has had a diaper change and has been fed. It’s possible the baby may be crying as a form of stress relief. Just as you are getting to know your baby, your baby is learning how to self-regulate, and calm his or her self.

However, a premature or ill baby may be too young or too sick to calm themself or to cry for communication purposes. Sometimes the noise and light of the hospital environment can be overstimulating. Their signs of stress can sometimes be seen as a decrease in heart rate, a decrease in oxygen saturation, or respiratory rate changes such as apnea--a pause or stop in breathing. Due to these types of episodes, all infants in the NICU are on continuous cardiac and respiratory monitors.

Caring for your Baby
As soon as your baby is stable, we encourage you to participate in his or her care. This care will be coordinated between you and the nurses and doctors caring for your baby.

Premature babies may exhibit subtle stress cues such as frequent movement, straightening of the arms and legs, arching the back, pointing the toes, raising their hand or eyebrows, and yawning. If your baby experiences any of these stress cues, it’s appropriate to comfort your baby with Gentle Human Touch (GHT). Babies who experience GHT are generally more relaxed and sleep more soundly. Your nurse will advise you on the proper technique.

When your baby is ready to be held, skin-to-skin care (SSC) is highly recommended. SSC has been shown to decrease infant discomfort and stress levels. SSC promotes a calm state, and can decrease an infant’s heart rate and energy needs. With sleep and decreased energy requirements your baby is able to use their extra energy for growth and development. Touch and SSC are critical components of connecting with your baby.

Important phone numbers

  • NICU: 630.275.3285
  • Perinatal support: 630.275.1520
  • Lactation Consultant: 630.275.5907

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