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Practical Tips for the NICU Mom

NICU stays can be completely overwhelming and scary, but there are ways to make that phase of life easier. I gathered some of my favorite ideas from fellow NICU veterans to share. It’s important that we NICU mamas stick together!

Keep a journal

Use a journal to jot down the baby’s stats, your feelings {the good and the bad}, and milestones. You’ll want this to look back on one day — and it’ll help when you start putting together a baby book.  

  • Bonus Tip :: Leave a separate journal at the baby’s bedside for friends and family to write in when they come to visit.  Also leave a disposable camera for any moments you may miss, like the baby’s first bath. The nurses are happy to help record these memories.

Snap pajamas

Snap pajamas are a NICU mama’s friend. Once your baby is able to wear clothing, the cords can be routed through a gap between snaps on pajamas. The pajamas also help the baby keep his body temp up, so he focuses more on growing instead of staying warm.

  • Bonus Tip :: The Carter’s stores around Houston carry preemie size jammies and onesies.

Smells from home

Leave a small item, like a stuffed animal, in the baby’s isolette so they can get a little glimpse of what home smells like. It’ll bring you both some comfort.

  • Bonus Tip :: Cut a couple squares of soft baby blanket to wear inside your shirt. Then alternate pieces between the baby’s isolette and your shirt each time you visit. This way he’s smelling Mama, aka the ultimate source of comfort.

Pumping

If you plan to pump breastmilk for your baby, most hospitals have pumping rooms so you just have to carry your pump parts instead of lugging around the heavy pump itself.  Even more convenient?  Many NICUs will provide a pump for you to use at the baby’s bedside.

  • Bonus Tip :: Medela Quick Clean Wipes are your best friend when pumping at the NICU. The NICU will also provide 4 oz bottles for milk storage. Just fill the bottles up, write any requested info on them {usually baby’s name, date, etc.}, and turn them over to your baby’s nurse. The milk bank will freeze them and bring them out to thaw as your baby needs it.

Caretakers

Leaving your baby in someone else’s care when they’re so fragile is intimidating. But what if you find the perfect nurse who makes you feel comfortable and goes above and beyond, and you want to keep them? Well, you can. Call the charge nurse on duty and request your favorite as your Primary Care Nurse. Whenever that nurse is on duty, they’re more likely to be assigned to your little one.

  • Bonus Tip :: All of the NICU nurses are amazing and work so hard to care for your baby. It’s not a terrible idea to bring them a snack every now and then to say thanks.

NICU bag

There are a ton of diaper bag “must-have” lists out there, but the NICU mom’s list is a little different. Some of my favorites include Kleenhanz wipes, super duty hand lotion {your hands will dry out fast from all the scrubbing!}, a bottled water {or Gatorade}, and packaged snacks like cereal or granola bars.  

  • Bonus Tip :: For me, bigger was better with my NICU bag. I was constantly toting clothes back and forth to wash, a small cooler for milk, and all of the items listed above.

My most important tip is that you should talk to someone who understands what it’s like to have a baby in the NICU.  Reach out to a friend or family member. Or shoot me an email! I’ve had two NICU babies, and I’m always happy to talk.

Fellow NICU veterans, what would you add to this list?

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