Thursday, January 16, 2014

What you need to know about the NICU

Most parents' expectations of what life will be like after a baby is born is filled with joy, visitors, pictures, and a quick stay at the hospital. But for those facing the challenges of a baby in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), life is very different. Usually NICU babies are very sick or premature and life seems to hang in the balance. Although it can be a very sad and hard time, there are things that you can do make life in the NICU a little more bearable.

In the webinar, Different Beginnings: An Inside View of the NICU, nurse, Mary Coughlin, describes what the NICU is like, what nurses can do to make the stay better, and what parents can do to help their infant thrive.

There were two main points that stood out:
1. Parental involvement is key to infant success in the NICU. There are countless studies that show that infants have better outcomes if parents are involved in their daily care. In addition to parental care, skin-to-skin (also known as kangaroo care) is vital to infants health in the NICU. It is so important to be there for your baby when they are sick. Nothing effects their outcome more than the parents.

2. Feeding your infant breastmilk is crucial to an infants ability to thrive in the NICU. Breastmilk is so important to an infant in the NICU that it is sometimes referred to as medication. Breastmilk is nutritionally perfect for infants, and especially beneficial to the sick or premature NICU infant. Breastmilk helps infants grow faster and healthier!!

If you are a parent facing the chance of NICU stay, please listen to the webinar and get support from other parents who have had infants in the NICU.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Christmas Birth Story

As a doula, when you take a client around the holidays, you know there is a slight chance that a baby will come on the actual holiday and that is exactly what happened to me. My December client was a couple of days over due when I heard my phone chirp on Christmas Eve morning. It was the text that I was hoping to avoid until after Christmas morning, since this year I was hosting my parents and sister. My client was in early labor and so at this point my main goal was to finish cooking Christmas Eve dinner before I had to leave. We finished dinner just in time for me to leave. When I met my client, she was still in early labor so I knew for sure we had a Christmas baby on our hands. After some tough night labor, she had her baby.

I rushed home to open gifts, but my kids were already done opening them. My hubby graciously video-ed them opening each thing. The adults had waited until I got home to open presents, but the only thing I wanted was to eat and go to sleep. I mustered the strength to open and appear thankful (which I was) for all the awesome gifts. Then I crashed.

Later, when I was reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas, I thought about Mary giving birth alone (no doula or midwife), with just Joseph by her side. How scared and confused she must have been, not knowing what to expect from labor. I thought how thankful I am to help women through that unknown and difficult time. I also felt blessed to witness the birth of a child on Christmas day--what an awesome gift! So as it turned out that the best gift I received this Christmas was not all wrapped up in fancy paper and bows, but instead came swaddled up in a pink and blue hospital blanket!