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    Special Delivery: When Your Baby is In the NICU

    By Sara Richmond Walls     

    Labor and delivery is supposed to be a magical time. No doubt, even the best experiences are still painful and often include hours of hard work! Occasionally, babies enter the world under special circumstances and require more help than others. That was the case with my son, Nathanial. His story is somewhat simple: Three hours of pushing followed 15 hours of labor and the midwife offered help with the vacuum. Once his head was delivered, his shoulders became lodged in my pelvis in what is known as “shoulder dystocia.” The result? Nathanial was born not breathing and without a heartbeat. His APGAR score when he was born was a 0. Within minutes, he was up to 7, but his right arm was partially paralyzed and we are now dealing with his condition known as Erb’s Palsy.

    The first four days of his life, Nathanial was in the NICU, which in our hospital was called the “Special Care Nursery.” While he was briefly placed on my chest for a few moments after his birth, he was quickly whisked away and when I saw him again, he was hooked up to all types of monitors and an IV. As a new mother, I was overwhelmed by this separation. Other mothers enjoyed rooming-in, while there were several walls and a locked door between my son and myself. The first few times I saw him, I felt like I could break him, even though he was a hearty 9 lb 6 oz. I struggled with breastfeeding and the nurses began feeding him formula, something that would hinder my future efforts.

    It was bizarre to see Nathanial in the same nursery as tiny babies that had been born prematurely. Watching other parents love on their newborns and my own experience has led me to the following pieces of advice:

    · Remember that this too shall pass. While the NICU is scary, it is often a mere bump in the road for many babies. Whether a baby is in the NICU for four days or four months, time will pass and before you know it, you will get to bring him or her home.

    · Visit, visit, visit! Spending time with your baby, especially if he or she is premature is essential to growth and development. If your baby is healthy enough, take part in feedings, diaper changes, baths, whatever you can to get to know your baby.

    · Inquire about Kangaroo Care. This is where the new baby is stripped to his or her diaper and placed against the mothers bear skin.

    · Ask questions. Keep yourself abreast of your baby’s condition. If the nurses cannot answer them, keep going until you get your questions answered.

    · Be your baby’s advocate. Remember that you are your child’s legal guardian and decision maker. If things are brought up that you question, see if it is possible to obtain a second opinion.

    · New mothers: take care of yourselves. New fathers: take care of your wives. Recovering from a delivery, be it a cesarean section or vaginal delivery, is a long process that requires rest, proper nutrition and proper hydration.

    · Watch for signs of post partum depression. No mother expects for their new baby’s first days, weeks or even months of life to be hooked up to IVs and monitors in a hospital’s neonatal ICU. All mothers that face this need to know that they are not alone. It happens every day. The good news is, the world of modern medicine has come a long way in helping these babies and it is only bound to get better.

    Written by Sara Richmond WallsRate this article:

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