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Q&A with a NICU Nurse

Support for Babies and Their Families

The March of Dimes describes the NICU as a roller coaster ride. What kind of support is available for parents of infants in the NICU?

"To take care of a baby -- the issues going on with that baby and that family -- in the NICU, it takes a multidisciplinary approach. It takes a whole army of health care professionals in addition to doctors and nurses. Respiratory therapists are invaluable in the NICU. These are the professionals who handle a whole realm of care under the direction of the docs, including setting up the ventilators and oxygen. They're invaluable and a huge presence.

Lactation consultants help with breastfeeding, special diet and special formulas. Dieticians specialize in the infant's nutritional needs. Social workers counsel families. Hospital chaplains are incredibly helpful to families in crises, and are either on staff or sometimes, neighboring churches send volunteer chaplains and ministers to visit families in the hospitals.

Occupational therapists, physical and feeding therapists, are also part of the group of people who rally around babies in the NICU. These babies can't live a typical baby life. They need to learn how to feed and move their bodies in a different way than babies who go home in a few days."

Wondering if there's support beyond what the baby gets in the NICU? There is -- Vicky explains on the following page.