The birth of a baby is an exciting, life-changing event. However, for families whose babies require care in the NICU, the experience can be overwhelming and highly emotional. The medical staff at MANA is committed to helping families cope with the NICU experience and navigate its unfamiliar surroundings. We hope that this collection of resources helps.
About the NICU
The NICU, sometimes called a Special Care Nursery, is an intensive care facility designed specifically for sick newborns who need specialized medical attention. The NICU is outfitted with equipment designed especially for the smallest patients and staffed by personnel with expertise in infant care. Babies are admitted to the NICU for many reasons. About half are premature, while the remainder have a variety of illnesses:
- Respiratory distress
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Complications that occur during delivery
- Serious infections
- Congenital anomalies
Some infants spend a few days in the NICU, while extremely premature infants and those with more serious medical ailments require much longer stays.
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit health care team is a large diverse group:
- Neonatologists: pediatricians with specialized training in the care of critically ill infants. They are the leaders of the NICU care team.
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioners: advanced practice, masters-prepared nurses who assist the neonatologists in caring for infants in the NICU.
- Neonatal Physician Assistants: health care professionals trained to care for infants in the NICU under the supervision the neonatologist.
- Neonatal Registered Nurses: nurses who have had training in the care of critically ill infants and their families.
- Pediatric Residents: physicians who have completed medical school and are in training to become pediatricians.
- Respiratory Therapists: health care practitioners with training in the care of infants who require support for respiratory illness. They monitor oxygen therapy and ventilator care, and perform selected bedside laboratory testing.
- Pharmacists: health care professionals who prepare and dispense medications for infants in the NICU.
- Lactation Consultants: healthcare professionals who assist families in the NICU with breast feeding their infants.
- Speech and Feeding Therapists: speech-language pathologists who specialize in feeding and swallowing disorders of premature and sick neonates. They evaluate and treat infants who are having difficulty with breast or bottle-feeding.
- Physical Therapists: specialty trained health care professionals who work with your baby (and you) to enhance neuromuscular function and promote developmental skills that are adversely affected by prematurity and other medical problems.
- Social Workers: professionally trained members of the health care team who provide emotional and logistical support to parents during their babies’ NICU stay. They are the family’s advocate in coordinating hospital services and procuring benefits, and help plan for discharge.
- Care Managers: specialized nurses who assist NICU families with planning for discharge. The care manager will help you connect with resources for medical supplies and services which your baby may need at home and may assist with financial and insurance concerns.
- Infant Apnea Team: neonatologists and advanced practitioners who support infants (and their families) who require apnea monitors after discharge.
- Parent Services Liaison: MANA-employed professionals who will help you work with your health insurance carrier and facilitate communication with the neonatologists.