The NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) is a place where all parents want to avoid going. Any expectant or new moms are very worried about the possibility of their baby having to go here.
This is a unit for babies who need a little extra help, where they can provide around-the-clock care to make sure these babies thrive.
It is commonly reserved for babies who are born early or babies who have a health concern when they are born. It is not an easy place to be, and it can cause parents a lot of stress and anxiety. While it can be a dark place, it is also a wonderful place. It shows the advances the medical world has made that babies are able to get the care they need to help them fight through whatever challenge they are facing.
One of the staples in the NICU are the nurses. NICU nurses are a treasure, and they are there to make sure the babies are taken care of. There is always a team constantly watching the little ones and there to intervene should they need too. However, NICU nurses are people too, even if they seem like superheroes, and there are things that rub them the wrong way.
Taken from articles written by NICU nurses, we have brought 20 things that really grinds their gears. Articles that are about things that a NICU nurse wants parents to know but wouldn’t say it to their faces.
20. WHEN MOM DOES TOO MUCH RESEARCH
There are a lot of pregnant women out there who have Google attached to their fingertips. Pregnancy can be a dark time, and it is easy to freak yourself out by assuming the bad when you feel a sharp pain, or something just feels off. Instead of calling our doctors, we automatically look to Dr. Google to help us diagnose the pain. This rarely goes over well.
The same is true for the NICU. The NICU is an overpowering place, and it is tempting to log on and research everything you possibly can about the department and your baby. This drives NICU nurses nuts because they know how easy it is to work yourself up with misinformation you can find online.
19. ON THE FLIPSIDE, WHEN MOM DOESN’T DO ANY RESEARCH
There is another sign to that card, and that mom still needs to do some research. Mom needs to find the perfect balance between knowing what is going on and what is sensationalized news. A NICU nurse wants mom (and dad) to do research, but they want them to do it properly. Research should include a lot of talking.
Talk to your doctors and the nurses, they are there to help you. They can also point you in the right direction or proper paperwork and websites that will not instill fear but will help you. The problem with online research is that you are probably going to come across the darkest of scenarios, and this will do nothing but cause sleepless nights.
18. WHEN THE NICU IS LEFT FEELING COLD
While it may be full of cute little babies, the NICU is still a medical department which can be a little intimidating. There are a lot of machines, wires, and sounds that can be a little worrisome. The devices are obviously all there for the benefit of the babies who are growing healthy around them, but it can leave the area feeling a bit ‘cold.’
NICU nurses don’t want it to be this way and they are urging for parents to bring in items to help liven up the place a bit. Bring in decorations and pictures from home to put all over the incubator. Most moms are worried this will get in the way, but as long as you run it by the nurse everything will be fine. The only rule they usually have is against stuffed animals because they hold in a lot of dust and germs.
17. WHEN MOM AND DAD HOLD IT ALL IN
A NICU experience can be very hard. It is a time filled with a lot of emotions and fears and a NICU nurse cannot stand it when mom and dad hold it all in. Holding in emotions does nothing for anything and it can make any situation worse. A lot of parents think they need to be strong and hold it all in, but this can result in depression and irrational thought.
The NICU nurses may be there to watch over and care for the babies, but they are also there to listen. As long as they are not in the middle of an emergency, they are great ears to vent too. They have years of training and experience and they can offer a lot of words of wisdom that may be very beneficial to your ears.
16. WHEN SELF-CARE GOES OUT THE WINDOW
There is nothing worse in this world than having a baby and having to go home without that baby because they have to have a stay in the NICU. What generally happens is the mom and dad don’t leave. They stay there at all times because they carry immense guilt should they ever leave and ‘abandon’ their baby. The NICU nurses want this to stop.
They do not think you are abandoning your baby if you go home to have a shower or have a quick nap in a comfortable bed instead of an armchair. Your baby is in the best place possible for them and mom needs to take good care of herself for her baby’s sake. So, go home and shower or just leave the hospital every now and then, it is good for the soul.
15. SEEING MARITAL PROBLEMS ARISE IN THE NICU
No one wants to think that their baby will end up in the NICU, so not a lot of people prepare for this experience. That means that they enter it completely overpowered and not expecting the emotional changes it can bring. A NICU experience can have the biggest effect on a marriage, as both parents struggle to cope.
The NICU nurses don’t want to see marital problems, but they know they can happen and happen quickly. They want to see mom and dad going for walks every now and then, and they want them to communicate with each other. The baby will only benefit from two parents who are working together through this, and not battling against each other.
14. NO ONE LIKES A JUDGE
We live in a world of judgment. Parents are constantly being judged by other parents for their decisions. However, no one is going to judge you harder than yourself. Mom guilt is going to be ten times worse for a NICU mom and the nurses think this has to stop.
NICU nurses often say that moms worry that they are not visiting enough or that they are not being involved enough, and they beat themselves up about it. They also state that often, mom is doing just fine with the tools she has available. They are urging moms to just do what feels right to them, and 99% of the time that is enough.
13. WHEN MOM ACTS LIKE SHE ‘DOESN’T CARE’
The NICU nurses are there to help, and nothing drives them insane more than a mom who doesn’t speak up. Unfortunately, it can make a mom look like she doesn’t care. In all honesty, it is probably more accurate that the mom doesn’t want to bug them because they are sure they are busy, and they don’t want to bother them.
The nurses want mom to ask them questions. They may be busy, but they will usually always be able to find time to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. They are also not mind-readers and they can’t just assume the questions or concerns you may have.
12. TURNING DOWN KANGAROO CARE
Every NICU department works a little differently, but the one thing they all agree with is kangaroo care. Kangaroo care is the fancy name given for skin-to-skin contact. Kangaroo care is extremely beneficial, and it helps to fix a lot of the concerns that NICU babies are facing. It helps the baby gain some pounds, regulate their temperature, provide them better oxygen, and more.
Since this treatment requires very little medical intervention, it can really grind the nurse’s gears when moms refuse to do this simple act. Kangaroo care is also very beneficial to mom. When a baby goes to the NICU mom can feel a little disconnected from her baby. Holding your NICU baby is a great way to bond.
11. THE NICU NURSE IS THE LAST PERSON WHO SHOULD BE IGNORED
The NICU nurses dislike being ignored. Now, they know they are no the center of attention in the NICU, but they absolutely love when they are personally asked for. They are urging moms and dads out there that if they have a nurse that they like then they should ask for them.
A lot of hospitals partake in a primary nurse for a baby. That means your baby will one nurse that is their primary person who cares for them. This is beneficial because then one nurse gets to know your little one very well. If you have a nurse you like or have a good feeling about, don’t be afraid to ask for that nurse to be your primary nurse. Some NICU stays are quite long, and it is better to work with someone you get along with.
10. NO ONE LIKES A NEGATIVE NELLY
The NICU is not a positive place, and it can be hard to keep your chin up throughout the process. There will be moments when you want to break down and cry in the shower. That is okay and to be expected, but it is also important to not let the negative overtake your complete outlook. The NICU nurses want all parents to try and be as positive as possible.
This means trying to look for something good in everything that is going on. Anything that is a bit of good news should be celebrated. Did you gain an ounce or two? That is a reason to celebrate! The NICU nurses know what you are going through and they know that it is always easier to face a situation when you have a positive mind.
9. WHEN YOUR SECOND COUSIN SHOWS UP!
The NICU is a very sensitive place, there are babies there who are not well and are trying to grow and thrive. While it is always nice that mom and dad have a support system there, there is such a thing as too much. Mom and dad are allowed to visit and spend as much time with their baby as they want, but anyone else needs to adhere to the visiting guidelines.
It can really rub a nurse the wrong way when these guidelines are not followed. They don’t mind when people come to visit but it should be within the hours and visits should be kept short and quiet. Around the baby’s incubator is not the place to debate the latest hockey game score. Those conversations are best kept to a more public area.
8. SICK VISITORS SHOULD BE A GIVEN
This one kind of piggybacks on to the last point, and we would like to believe that it shouldn’t need to be said, but we can not assume anything. It is important that no sick person should ever come near the NICU. We know that newborns have very new and weak immune systems so they can fall ill very easily, and it is a lot more serious for them.
Babies in the NICU are much more susceptible to all the big germs out there. NICU nurses can’t stand when visitors come who are ill, who are just getting over something or have the tiniest itch in the back of their throat.
7. DON’T PRETEND TO UNDERSTAND — ASK!
This is something a lot of us do without even realizing out of fear of looking ‘dumb.’ When someone explains something to us that we don’t quite understand, we just nod and smile. We are afraid to ask them to explain further or repeat, especially if we have already asked. This can drive the NICU nurse mad and it is just best to come clean.
If you don’t understand something that has been said to you, ask for clarification. Even if you have to ask a million times. It is always best to make sure you fully understand what the nurse is telling you, especially if it is instructions for care.
6. LOOK AT YOUR BABY, NOT THE WIRES
A lot of the time, the NICU can look scarier than it actually is. There are incubators all around the room, machines are beeping and buzzing, and your precious baby has a whole bunch of wires and cords going everywhere. NICU nurses are urging mom to look beyond the wires and look at her baby. It can be hard at first to look beyond all the medical contraptions, but it is important.
A former NICU nurse, Rosanna M, has these words of advice, “A NICU is a [intimidating] place, but it is also a place of great hope, miracles, and love. Focus on that when things seem overpowering.”
5. NICU MOMS SHOULD UNITE
No one has to go through anything in life, and that includes your journey as a NICU patient. If there was one thing that NICU nurses would like to le other mom’s know is that they don’t have to be lonely. A lonely NICU mom can get on a NICU nurses’ nerves, so they want them all to make some new friends.
While every story in the NICU is different, a NICU mom is not going to find a better friend than a fellow NICU mom. While their stories may be incredibly different, they understand the feelings you are going through. It can be hard for our old friends and family to understand what we are going through, which can leave us feeling really lonely. Make NICU mom friends where you can vent and cry out all of your frustration.
4. THEY REALLY CAN’T STAND A SUPER-MOM
You may want to be a super mom, but no one else wants you to be. No one expects you to be a super mom, especially the NICU nurse. They don’t want to see a mom who is struggling to do everything because she does not want to ask for help from anyone. Maybe she doesn’t want to bother the nurses who she assumes are busy, or maybe she just doesn’t want people to think that she can’t handle it.
They really want you to ask for help when you need it. This could be helpful for something to do with your baby or if you just need a moment to collect yourself. The NICU nurses are there to help you if they can and they really don’t mind you asking for help when you need it. Asking for help is better than burning out.
3. COMPARING BABIES? REALLY?
No matter how many times moms need to be told, they still do it. They spend a lot of their time comparing their babies to other babies. It happens when they are newborns, infants and even into toddlerhood. What a NICU nurse cannot stand is when a NICU mom compares her baby to the babies in the incubators around them.
It really is never a good idea to compare babies, because mom does not know where on the journey that baby is and can not make an accurate comparison even if they wanted too. It is best to have tunnel vision and focus only on your baby and where they are on their journey.
2. WHEN DAD IS ABSENT
Assuming that there is a dad in the picture, the NICU nurses want to see him there. They understand that the dad usually has to work and has to still provide for his family, but they really don’t want to see him check out of the situation emotionally or physically. Men are a different breed and a lot of the time they have a harder time expressing their feelings, and they can often ‘hide’ or avoid their problems.
Dad needs to be there, he needs to be there to relieve mom for a bit and get all the up-to-date information that pertains to his child. Mom should not have to do this alone, and they will notice if dad is not there.
1. WHEN YOU DON’T STAY IN TOUCH!
Here is the truth, the NICU nurses spend a lot of time with your baby and since they are human too, they grow to love your little one. That means that even though they are happy and full of joy when your baby graduates and gets to go home, they are sad as well. They are going to miss your little one and they get even more upset when you don’t visit.
Even though you may be so happy to finally be out of the NICU, it is important to try and visit when you can. Pop in and let the nurses see how far your little one has come, it will mean the world to them. It also never hurts to bring in some coffee and treats!