f. How to be a part of your baby's care in the NICU

Many parents are uncertain about what to do and how involved they can be in their baby’s care in the NICU. Here are some ways you can be a part of your baby’s care.

Ask a lot of questions.  It’s good to ask questions. Ask your baby’s health care provider questions about anything you don’t understand. You want to learn as much as you can before you take your baby home. Write up your list of questions so that you have them nearby when the provider visits your baby or when you call the NICU for an update.

Here are some sample care questions:

  • Can I hold my baby?
  • What can I do to help take care of my baby?
  • When do you think my baby will go home?
  • What do I need to learn about my baby before we go home? 

Here are some sample medical questions:

  • How is my baby doing today?
  • Has anything changed?
  • How will this medicine help my baby?
  • How will using this medical equipment help my baby?
  • What tests are you doing, and what information will they give you?
  • Who is in charge of my baby’s medical care?
  • Who should I talk to or call if I have questions about my baby’s condition?
  • How will I find out about any major change in my baby’s condition?
  • What caused this condition? 

Be an active member of your baby’s medical team. From the start, make it your goal to have a good working relationship with the NICU staff. Ask questions, let them know your concerns and take part in the decision-making process about your baby’s care. 

There are many ways you can be involved in the care of your newborn during his stay in the NICU. You can ask to help change your baby’s clothes or diaper, take his temperature and help the nurse weigh him.

Start a file of health information about your baby. Keep information about your baby’s health, providers, appointments, medicines and medical equipment together in one place. Be sure to bring this folder with you when you see your pediatrician.

Be your child’s advocate. This means speaking up for your child. If you see something that makes you uncomfortable, say so. Ask about a procedure, type of machine or medicine that you don’t know about. Your baby needs you to be her voice when she can’t speak for herself. 

Get support. Ask for help from nurses and other NICU staff. They can help you hold, feed and burp your baby. Talk to a lactation consultant for help with breastfeeding or providing breast milk in the hospital and at home. Also, find out about other resources that can help you care for your baby at home.

Bond with your baby. Two of the most important ways you can bond with your baby in the NICU are feeding her and doing skin-to-skin care.