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Frequently Asked Questions


Why is my baby here?


What if I want to breastfeed?


Can I bring toys or clothing for my baby?


Do all these tubes and lines in my baby hurt him/her?


What happens after the NICU?


If my baby needs services after discharge, how will this be arranged?


When can my baby come home?


Who is in charge of my baby's care?


When can I visit my baby?


Are there any conditions where I should not visit the baby?


Can I touch/ hold my baby?


Can I check on my baby after my discharge home?


Can I take photos/ video of my baby?


How does my baby eat?


Why is my baby here?

A baby is placed in the intensive care nursery because, in the opinion of the professionals present at the birth of your baby, it is the best place for your child to be observed, treated and cared for. There are many answers to this question depending on your history and on the gestational age of your baby. After your baby has been admitted and examined the team can give you a more detailed explanation of what is going on.

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What if I want to breastfeed?

Until your baby can be put to breast you will need to pump and freeze your milk. OB and NICU nurses are able to help you and teach you what you need to save your milk. When your baby is stable, we can begin Kangaroo Care, which is skin-to-skin contact. Even if your baby isn't ready to nurse, Kangaroo Care can help increase your milk production. When moms and dads begin to Kangaroo, it helps to establish family bonding. You don't have to be breastfeeding to Kangaroo your baby.

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Can I bring toys or clothing for my baby?

You may want to bring one or two washable toys to place in your baby's bed. Each week when your baby's bed is changed the toys will need to be brought home, cleaned and returned or replaced with new ones. As soon as your baby's condition permits, you may bring in clothes. We also have many volunteers who knit sweaters, hats, booties and blankets

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Do all these tubes and lines in my baby hurt him/her?

You will see that, at a minimum, each baby in the NICU will have on leads that attach it to a heart monitor and a saturation monitor. We don't believe these cause pain to the infants although they may be annoying to the parents while you're holding the baby. The smaller or the sicker the baby the more tubes will be involved in providing the care the baby requires. Some of these tubes depending on the placement may be uncomfortable or painful to the baby. The nurses will go over every tube and line with you and discuss questions you may have.

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What happens after the NICU?

If your baby was admitted for prematurity and has now progressed to the growing stage he/she will be transferred to the Continuing Care Nursery for the time they need to grow. Depending on your pediatrician, they may take over the care of your baby at this time. If your baby was admitted for observation or infection, feeding problems etc. and you are still a patient at Baystate, your baby may be able to be transferred to the nursery on your floor or your room when his/her problem resolves. If you have been discharged, then the baby will be transferred to the Continuing Care Nursery (on the same floor as the NICU) until they are ready for discharge. After the transfer to the CCN your private pediatrician will take over the care and plans for the baby. If your baby was transferred to Baystate from another hospital and is no longer dependent on IV fluids they may be eligible for transfer to the home hospital. This will need to be discussed with the NICU team, your insurance company and your pediatrician at your home hospital.

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If my baby needs services after discharge, how will this be arranged?

Decisions are made and discussed with you before transferring the care of your baby to your private pediatrician regarding the need for continued special services. Specific departments may have requested follow up appointments for your child for a specific time after discharge or your child may need medications or treatments adjusted after you go home. The staff in the NICU will go over all of this with you. Any doctor's appointments where your child needs follow up after discharge we will try to get for you while plans are being made for the transfer/discharge.

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When can my baby come home?

Now that your baby is being cared for in the NICU, you'll be anxious to know how long he will have to stay here. Most premature babies are expected to go home around the date they were originally due. The earlier your baby was born, the longer he or she will need to stay in the hospital. The baby needs to complete the growing and developing in the nursery that they would have done in your womb. A baby is not ready to go home until he or she: -- weighs about 5 pounds. -- is gaining 1/2 to 1 ounce a day. -- is able to keep their body temperature normal in an open crib. -- has had no apneas or bradycardias for 7 days. -- is able to take all feedings from breast or bottle. If your child is in the NICU for a problem other than prematurity then the length of stay is much more individualized and will be discussed with you by the team caring for your child.

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Who is in charge of my baby's care?

While your baby is in the NICU, our team, consisting of a neonatologist, nurse practitioner or physician's assistant and resident, will manage the care of your baby. Your private pediatrician will check in with the team from time to time to get an update on the progress and plans for the baby and on the time for the baby to be transferred to his/her care.

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When can I visit my baby?

Parents are considered to be a vital part of the overall care of infants in NICU and CCN.  Since parents involvement has a key role in neonatal care, parents are not considered "visitors" but members of their baby's team of caregivers. 

 

Four (4) "special visitor" passes will be issued to you to distribute to selected family members or friends.  They may visit at any time. They will be asked for ID to confirm the name on the pass. 

 

Two (2) individuals at a time will be allowed at the infant's bedside, not including siblings.  Visitors must be at least 14 years of age, with the exception of siblings of the infant. Siblings will be screened for possible communicable diseases prior to entering the NICU or CCN. 

 

Who should visit, when and how long the visits should be is based on what is best for the baby.

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Are there any conditions where I should not visit the baby?

For the protection of mothers, babies and children, anyone who is not feeling well, has a cold or has been exposed to, or has symptoms of communicable disease such as: chicken pox, flu, tuberculosis, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough or impetigo, should not visit.

 

Children 14 years of age must be accompanied and supervised by an adult.

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Can I touch/ hold my baby?

Most babies can tolerate the gentle pressure of your hands on them and we try to get you holding them as soon as possible. However, very ill babies require minimal stimulation and handling.

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Can I check on my baby after my discharge home?

You can call 24 hours a day at one of these numbers:  NICU  413-794-5343, CCN  413-794-5352, toll free in MA  1-800-332-9568.  Try not to call between 7-8am and 7-8pm. This is sign-out time for the nursing staff and getting to the phone can be difficult. The best time to reach your baby's doctor is between 2- 4pm in the NICU.

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Can I take photos/ video of my baby?

When your baby's condition permits we encourage you to take photos. Some parents even leave a one-time use camera at the bedside so that we can catch milestones as they happen. For example: tubes out, face uncovered, weights, smiles etc.

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How does my baby eat?

Most babies don't eat by mouth when they are first admitted to the NICU. Depending on their gestational age and/or their condition this may last for days to several weeks. We provide them with intravenous nutrition (IV fluid that contain vitamins, minerals, protein, fats and carbohydrates -- everything your baby needs for optimal growth and nutrition). Once your baby is capable of taking breastmilk or formula it will be provided by breast, bottle or feeding tubes depending on your baby's specific needs. Typically, babies have problems coordinating sucking and swallowing with breathing before 32 weeks gestation.

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