Tips for the New NICU Parent

Hindsight is 20/20. When you’re pregnant, you have all of these hopes and dreams for you and your baby. How you’ll feed your baby. How you’ll snuggle your baby. How you’ll bring your baby home with you and the first people that will get to meet your baby. I would venture to say that any parent whose baby gets admitted into the NICU, whether for one night or one hundred nights, is scared. Scared of the stories you may have heard from others who walked before you, scared of the unknowns. “The NICU Rollercoaster.” I’m sure you’ve heard of this term - the many twists and turns, ups and downs a family will experience throughout their baby’s NICU stay. It’s hard to know what to expect throughout your stay because, after all, each experience is different. Below are fifteen things I wish I would have known before setting foot in the NICU:

  • Of all the hands that care for and touch your baby, your baby will always know your touch as their parent.
  • Fed is best - whether you’re using donor milk, formula or exclusively pumping, you might not have a choice on how you feed your baby. If your baby is eating, you’re doing a great job!
  • The guilt and stress you feel about your baby gaining weight.
  • Discharge isn’t the end of your NICU journey - there are so many follow up appointments.
  • The early birth of your baby is not your fault.
  • The NICU can be very lonely & isolating.
  • Your nurses will turn into family.
  • Your baby is not the only warrior – you are too.
  • Celebrate every small victory!
  • It’s ok to ask for help.
  • How much love and support you will have from friends and family.
  • No one prepares you for how it’ll feel going home without your baby every night.
  • You’ll find strength inside that you didn’t know you had
  • Comparison is the thief of joy. Remember all your baby just went through to get here! It’s so hard to watch other babies of similar age hitting milestones like sitting or crawling and thinking that your baby is “behind.”
  • Find something positive in each and every day, no matter how small. Your baby can sense your positive attitude. You are your baby’s biggest cheerleader!
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