Since I’m back during NICU awareness month I thought its finally time to talk a little more about our NICU experience. I haven’t particularly avoided it or really delved into it because I’ve just never felt the need. As you can imagine it wasn’t the best time of our lives so its not the easiest thing to talk about.
We were very fortunate that we were aware Jasper would be premature so he had all the necessary drugs to help him develop a little further. In the end we only spent two & a bit weeks in the NICU which is a very short stay. Considering he was 7 weeks early we could have spent a lot longer on the unit.
When I decided to make a post about NICU awareness month I was very conscious of the fact that when we were in that position the last thing on my mind was googling about it. I didn’t even think to read up about other people’s experiences & as it isn’t usually something you plan I didn’t think a tips for parents post would be very relevant. In the end I thought writing a post for friends or family would better so here’s 6 ways you can support NICU parents.
6 Ways To Support NICU Parents
1) Be patient
A very simple tip but also a very important one. Right now you won’t be a priority & as you can imagine the focus is all on the baby who is potentially fighting for its life. No matter how healthy a baby in the NICU unit is the parents will be worried & most likely very emotional.
Now is not the time to worry about when you’ll see the baby or when you’ll get the next update.
Just be patient & understanding. They’ll really appreciate it.
2) Help out where you can
Worrying about what you can do to help?
Well nows the time to take the pressure off your family & friends. Do those little tasks that you can & trust me they’ll appreciate it more than you can imagine.
We had just moved when we had Jasper so Jacob’s parents essentially unpacked the majority of our house & cleaned it top to bottom while I was in hospital. It was amazing! Couldn’t thank them enough for ticking that task of our list.
Maybe batch cook some meals for your friend or pick up their missed mail. If you can give lifts to the hospital perfect, maybe even pack lunches for them. You can always give their home a spruce with permission.
Honestly the little things really do mean a lot.
3) Respect the rules
Each parent in this situation will have different rules to cope with whats going on.
Some may not be willing to celebrate the new baby just yet. Some may not want visitors in the hospital. Some may not want any pictures.
We personally allowed Grandparents to visit because it was allowed on the ward & we felt comfortable but not everyone feels the same.
Just respect what the parents wish to do & like I said first be patient.
4) Don’t be scared
Trust me the parents are scared enough so please try not to be scared too or at least try not to show it too much.
It is a daunting situation & well yes some babies are tiny & that can be scary. You may be fearful of what’s to happen or what you can & can’t do.
The thing is we are already worried enough for everyone so it’s hard to focus on your fear too. If you’re allowed to visit & are comfortable enough don’t be scared. The NICU is a friendly place & there’s lots of nurses on hand to help at all times.
5) Ask but don’t probe
Its better to be informed than to be sat at home worrying but it’s also not wise to probe the parents. There’s a lot of questions the parents don’t even have answers to & well its all very overwhelming.
Try not to ask unnecessary questions & don’t continue to ask when the baby is coming home. The baby will be home when it’s ready & the chances are the parents are wondering the same things. Its just a sad question really.
Please do follow up with parents & make sure they are okay just try not to be overwhelming with questions. They really don’t need an interrogation right now.
6) Let them vent however they need
Be a shoulder to cry on & let your friends/family rely on you. It could be at silly o’clock but they need it.
I can’t explain how emotional it is watching your baby be hooked up to a machine or having test after test.
Sometimes you just explode & your emotions come tumbling out & right in that moment they’ll need you.
Just stick the kettle on & let them vent away. It’ll me very much appreciated & well we all need a a purge of our worries at times.
There’s just a few tips I can give you personally to support NICU parents & I know its scary but you got this. Its such a trying time but you can only do your best to be supportive so don’t put pressure on yourself.
I still haven’t decided if I’m going to talk more about my personal NICU experience but if you’d like to hear more than please let me know & you’re welcome to ask any questions below.
September is NICU awareness month so if you can donate to any preemie charities please do. Always check with your local hospitals if they take donations cause some may take nappy or clothing ones!
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