No mother wants or plans for her newborn to use the services of a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), but some babies need a little extra help when they are born.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 10 babies in 2017 were born too early, the most common cause for babies to be admitted to the NICU. At UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg we treat more than 550 newborns into our NICU each year.
Whatever the cause, admission of a baby into the NICU can be a challenging time, and it’s made more difficult by the stress parents feel when leaving the NICU without their child – what many mothers say is the hardest part of the situation.
At hospitals like UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg, the NICU has private rooms that give parents the option of staying overnight with their newborn. It’s not only good for the mom, it’s good for the newborn too. Mounting evidence shows that frequent forms of contact, parent’s voice, skin-to-skin, holding, are associated with better outcomes for infants during hospitalization.
Private NICU rooms are a new standard for improved patient outcomes. Typically, each room has a couch that converts into a bed, offering the opportunity for increased maternal involvement, including a private setting to breastfeed, practice skin-to-skin bonding and be more involved in their baby’s care. In addition, private rooms offer privacy for the clinical team to have conversations about a baby’s care with parents and caregivers.
Some units have dedicated rooms for twins and also provide amenities including a sibling play room, a communal area for group parent education and support, and a laundry facility for parents.
The NICU staff wants parents to be actively involved in the care of their newborn. It’s great for the newborn and great for the family. Although no parent wants to think about their child spending time in the NICU, it’s a comfort to know that, if needed, hospitals are improving the experience for the mother and the child.