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Neonatal ICU Richland

Infant in NIC

Everyone at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit strives to give you and your baby the best care.

Although your infant is in our special care, your baby needs your love and attention in order to continue to grow, develop, and become stronger before going home. We offer your family — especially your little one — not only our medical expertise, but our heartfelt concern as well.


Personnel in the NICU include...

  • Neonatologist – a pediatrician who is specialized in taking care of sick newborns
  • Resident – a physician who is training to be a pediatrician
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner – a neonatal registered nurse who has received advance training to help the neonatologist
  • Neonatal Nurse – a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse who exclusively takes care of premature or sick babies
  • Neonatal Respiratory Therapist – a person who has received training in neonatal respiratory care (takes care of the breathing machine and oxygen regulation)
  • Unit Secretary – an individual who greets you, answers the phone, enters orders into the computer, and remains the communication hub between the parents and personnel
  • Phlebotomist – an individual trained to draw blood from babies for lab tests
  • Pediatric Pharmacist – a trained pharmacist who has specialized in pediatric medications
  • Occupational or Physical Therapist – a person trained to evaluate infant development and determine the need for early intervention

What does it mean to have a baby in the NICU?

For Families... NICU photo

Visiting the NICU – We encourage you to visit your baby often because he or she recognizes your touch, voice, and face. These visits will help in your baby's healing process. You may want to telephone ahead when you are coming to avoid delays because there are certain times we may need to ask you to wait. To protect your infant from infection, only parents and grandparents are allowed to visit and no children can be in the waiting room.

Because of the special intensive care equipment necessary to help your baby, you may feel somewhat frightened or unsettled. Upon visiting the NICU be prepared to see the maze of machines and tubes. This advanced medical equipment helps keep your baby comfortable and nourished, and helps the doctors and nurses monitor your baby's progress. Be assured that skilled doctors, nurses and therapists are bringing your baby comfort, warmth, nourishment, and a chance to grow stronger. Our doctors and nurses are highly educated in the care of very sick newborns. Never feel as if you are in the way of the medical staff. Talk to the nurses and ask them what you can do for your baby. As time goes by, your baby will respond to you more and more.

We understand this is not how you planned your baby's birth. Your baby may have been taken away from you immediately after delivery, and you may feel frightened by all the machines and strangers attending to your baby. We know the NICU is a barrier to the kind of loving relationship you hoped to establish immediately with your baby. There are some gentle, loving acts you can do for your baby during his or her stay in the NICU onNurse and Physician with Infant in NICU ce your baby's condition has stabilized (check with your MD/NNP).

  • Hold your baby's foot or hand
  • Talk or sing quietly to your baby
  • Look into your baby's eyes and shield your baby's face from the lights to encourage opening of the eyes
  • Supply your baby with breast milk
  • Try to visit your baby daily
  • Read to your baby


For Parents...

At the hospital, you will be taught all the skills necessary for your infant's care when he or she is discharged. There are rooms available for you to stay overnight with your baby in close proximity to the NICU so that you can practice these skills independently prior to day of discharge. This will make you feel more comfortable and confident with your baby's care.

New Mom Practicing Skills with Infant in NICU

Most parents of sick babies describe their feelings with words such as shock, anger, fear, and guilt. In the coming weeks, you will probably experience a roller coaster of all those emotions. If you are feeling numb, you may be experiencing shock as you begin to understand what has happened. Then, you may get angry with the nurses and doctors, your spouse and family. This anger may come from feelings of helplessness. Feelings of fear, guilt, and depression are also common as you seek to find an explanation for why this has happened. You will need time — and the support of family, friends, our medical staff, social workers and clergy — to work through these feelings, and to accept and adapt to the situation. During this time, it is important for you to take care of yourself and to realize these emotions are completely normal.

We can assure that your baby is receiving expert care in the NICU; we are giving your child around-the-clock care. We realize this is a stressful time for you and we want you to know we are here for you. You are an important member of the team working to make your baby better. Please feel free to ask the staff questions about your baby's daily progress and care. If we can not stop to answer your questions at the moment, we will arrange a private time when we can talk.

Children's Hospital offers the following services:

  • Care for You and Your Baby – includes discussions about postpartum care and basic baby care and behavior. This can be viewed on the hospital's Women's Channel three times a day. You also will be provided with written information on your baby's growth and development.
  • Infant CPR – to provide education on resuscitation for infants up to one year of age prior to discharge.
  • Warm Line – a lactation service, offering 24 hour voice mail service to nursing moms with questions or problems.
  • Breastfeeding – lactation consultants and educators are available to assist with any breastfeeding needs.  Breastfeeding your baby is very important. Studies have shown that the breastfed baby has a shorter hospital stay, less risk of infections, decreased IV nutrition and improved feeding tolerance.

NICU waiting room

For Friends...

We realize friends often feel helpless in a time like this. Although we do not allow friends to visit the baby in the NICU, there are several ways you can help the parents cope with the stress.

Some suggestions are:

  • fix a meal
  • clean their house
  • be a good listener
  • provide transportation if needed
  • offer babysitting for the siblings

Remember, the baby may be hospitalized for a few months and the parents will need your support for a long time.