Congratulations! You're headed home with your new baby. You're probably feeling very happy and maybe a little nervous, too. Don't worry, though, your NICU staff will not send you home unprepared.
Each NICU will have its own guidelines regarding the discharge of your baby from the hospital. Listed below are some of the most common ones:
- You have acquired the skill and judgment necessary for her care at home.
- She is able to successfully feed by mouth and grow well on breast milk and/or formula.
- Your baby will be able to control her own body temperature and keep herself warm without the help of an incubator.
- She will be able to breathe regularly except for occasional apnea. Some babies may go home on oxygen or a monitor.
- Her medical condition is stable and all unresolved medical issues have been addressed.
The NICU nurses are trained to help you get ready and guide you as you practice your baby's daily routines before taking her home.
The nurses will help you bathe your baby and change her diapers. They'll coach you through her daily care, and answer all your questions about feeding.
They'll also teach you how to take your baby's temperature and watch for signs of illness. If your baby is going home on oxygen or on some type of monitor, they'll show you how to connect and troubleshoot it. They'll instruct you in the use of any medications as well.
While your baby is still in the NICU, it is a good time to take a course in infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This life-saving course will teach you how to get your baby's heart and lungs working again if they should ever stop for any reason. Chances are you won't ever need to use CPR on your baby, but knowing it will increase your confidence and could save your baby's life.
Taking your baby home is a big step, but we know you can handle it! It will help to spend as much time with your baby in the NICU as you possibly can before going home.
The NICU staff will do everything they can to make the transition home the wonderful event you've been waiting for.