What Is The Nicu
When babies are born early, have health problems, or a difficult birth they go to the hospital’s NICU. NICU stands for “neonatal intensive care unit.” There, babies get around-the-clock care from a team of experts.
Most of these babies go to the NICU within 24 hours of birth. How long they stay depends on their health condition. Some babies stay only a few hours or days others stay weeks or months.
You may hear the NICU called:
- a special care nursery
- a newborn intensive care nursery
Checking Into The Hospital For Birth
Chances are youll be in labor when you arrive at the hospital, though not if you have a scheduled induction or c-section. Luckily, hospital staff members are prepared for this, and the check-in process is usually quick. Theyll ask you for your name and insurance information, and they might also need your license plate number if the labor and delivery wing has a special parking lot.
Once youre checked in, the nurse at the front desk will put a wristband on you and another nurse will escort you to a triage room .
How Often Do You Need To Change Babys Diaper
Your newborn will pass meconium for their first few days of life. This is a black, sticky, tarlike substance.
How often youll need to change their diaper varies depending on whether or not youre breastfeeding or formula-feeding them.
Breastfed babies will typically have several bowel movements per day. Formula-fed babies will have fewer.
Either way, youll want to change your babys diaper every two to three hours.
If the diaper is just wet with urine, you dont need to change it right away and wake up your sleeping baby. However, change baby immediately following any bowel movements to avoid irritation.
You can tell its time to change your babys diaper as soon as you can smell or feel that theyve had a bowel movement.
To determine if the diaper is wet, put one hand on the diaper to feel if its damp. Alternatively, some diapers change color when theyre wet.
- emergency information, including your babys doctor, nearest emergency room, and poison control number
You can also find a premade kit online that contains most of these items.
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The Best Postpartum Recovery Products
Theres a lot to love about the postpartum period: tiny baby snuggles, that unmistakable new baby smell and the chance to drown out the world around you and bond with your newest little family member.
Buuuut were also here to keep it real. For many new parents, theres a less-than-delightful side to those first few weeks right after giving birth, whether you delivered vaginally or via C-section. Discomfort down under, sore boobs, a sensitive incision and, everyones favorite, hemorrhoids are all pretty commonand pretty uncomfortablethings new parents need to deal with during postpartum recovery.
The good news? There are lots of smart, well-designed and even beautiful products that can help. These parent-tested picks are here to make postpartum recovery a little bit easier and help get you back on your feet.
Not Your Grannys Panties
Packed with vitamins and nutrients like strawberry leaf, red raspberry and ginger root, this organic, caffeine-free tea blend was developed especially for postpartum recovery. Its not medically backed, so check with your healthcare provider for the green light, but customers rave about the flavor and truly, well take any excuse to relax with a cup of tea.
What The Birth Center Provides
Youve probably read over a bunch of packing lists that seem beyond comprehensive. You dont need to bring everything and the kitchen sink. In fact, even if you dont pack a thing, your hospital likely has your basic needs covered. That should be a load off your shoulders literally!
All facilities are different, though, so if you have any questions, be sure to call to ask before you arrive. You may even want to schedule a hospital tour during your pregnancy to learn more about what you can expect during your stay.
For mom, birth centers generally provide:
- hospital gowns
- prescription and non-prescription medications, if needed
And before you think of what to pack, you should know that hospitals suggest not packing expensive items, like:
- wedding rings and other jewelry
- laptops and tablets
- loads of cash
Basically, avoid bringing anything that youd miss if you accidentally lost it. We promise, your items will be far from your mind when you hold your little one for the very first time!
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Hospital Bag Checklist For Baby
Your baby wont need much more than something to wear home and his car seat, but here are a few other items to consider, depending on the weather and the size of your bag:
- Baby lotion, diaper cream and a diaper or two
- Going-home outfit, including socks or booties
- A receiving blanket and a couple of burp cloths
- Extra layers like a sweater or bunting, plus a knit cap if its cold out
- A hat with a little brim in case its sunny
Will My Baby Require Every Test Can I Opt Out Of Newborn Screening Tests
All 50 states and the District of Columbia require a newborn blood screening for at least 21 disorders, with a majority of states screening newborns for all 34 and up to the 60 disorders suggested by the HHS.
Check with your practitioner or your local board of health to find out what tests are done in your state, or look them up online at Baby’s First Test .
If youre concerned, discuss your fears at a prenatal visit dont wait until delivery day to speak up. You do have the right to opt out of any test or procedure, but you will need to sign paperwork documenting your decision.
In some cases, the hospital might even inform the states department of child services that youve decided to forgo the recommended screening.
Keep in mind, although most of these conditions are very rare, they can be life-threatening if they go undetected and untreated. Testing is inexpensive, and in the very unlikely event that your baby tests positive for any condition, the pediatrician can verify the results and begin treatment immediately, making a huge difference in the prognosis.
So its really in your child’s best interest to get all the screenings your pediatrician and hospital recommend.
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The Labor And Delivery Room
The labor and delivery room is where youll spend most of your time while in labor at the hospital. Depending on your birth plan and the options available to you, you might bounce on a yoga ball, take a shower or labor in a special tub as your contractions get closer together.
A nurse will monitor your labor and your babys heart rate, either once per hour or continuously. If you get an epidural, an anesthesiologist will go through that process with you and administer the epidural in the room.
Most hospitals allow you to have partners, midwives, doulas or family members in the room with you while youre in labor if you choose, but they usually have a limit. Ask about this during your tour and keep the number in mind as you write your birth plan.
And your family wont be the only ones in the room with youduring your labor, you might encounter multiple labor and delivery nurses. They change shifts every eight to 12 hours, so the nurses you meet when you arrive might be different than the ones there when you give birth in the hospital.
What Does A Night Nurse Do
You may have heard about night nurses. A night nurse gives your baby bottles and changes their diapers overnight.
If youre breastfeeding, a night nurse may bring baby to you to feed, then change them and put them back to sleep. Or you can choose to pump and have your night nurse give your baby bottles overnight if you choose.
The cost for a night nurse may range from $25 an hour to several hundred dollars per hour, depending on your location and the experience of the night nurse.
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The First Hour After Birth
In the meantime, you’ll have to deliver the placenta. The placenta may slide out within minutes after the baby, or may take as much as 30 to 60 minutes. The placenta is about one-fifth the size of the baby. It has no bones and is soft, but you may still feel intense cramping.
After the placenta is delivered, you will receive medication call Pitocin . Pitocin can be given as a separate injection or mixed with the IV fluids you are already receiving. Pitocin will help your uterus contract so you won’t bleed excessively. To achieve the same effect as Pitocin, your uterus may be externally massaged, or your nipples may be stimulated, or your baby may be put on your breast to suck.
Your midwife or doctor will then inspect your genital area for lacerations. Any lacerations and the episiotomy will be repaired. A small amount of local anesthesia will be used to numb the area, so during the repair you may feel a little pressure but not pain. You or your partner may be holding your baby, or he may be placed in the warmer. Bonding is a lifelong process it does not just happen in the moments after birth. Most moms are exhausted and just need to rest during the repair. This a good time for the new dad to be with his baby. Or the nurse may be caring for your baby at this time.
Hearing Test For Newborns
Sometime in the first day after your baby is born, he or she will also have a hearing test done. Typically, this test will wait until at least six hours after birth, as it’s common that the process of birth leaves some residue in the baby’s ears that can interfere with the hearing screen. Waiting allows the ear canals to clear out a bit more.
This test is very simple and completely painless to your baby. the nurse places some special headphones on the baby’s ears that release sound and measure the baby’s response to the sounds. If the test detects a low response, the hearing screen will typically be repeated. If your baby fails the hearing screen again, another repeat will be scheduled for approximately one week after you leave the hospital and if your baby fails that repeat, you will be referred to a hearing specialist.
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What Happens At The First Office Visit
Your newborn will have an exam at the doctor’s office within 3 to 5 days of birth. During the first office visit, your doctor will check your baby in a few ways. Your doctor will probably:
- measure weight, length, and head circumference
- observe your newborn’s vision, hearing, and reflexes
- do a complete physical exam
- ask how you’re doing with the new baby and how your baby is eating and sleeping
- talk about what you can expect in the coming month
- discuss your home environment and how it could affect your baby
You also might talk about the results of the screening tests done right after birth, if they’re ready. Jot down any instructions about special baby care, and bring up your questions or concerns. Keep a medical record for your baby that includes information about growth, immunizations, medicines, and any problems or illnesses.
What To Pack In Hospital Bag For Baby
After your hospital bag has everything for you, then move on to the essentials for baby.
- A car seat. If youre driving home, this is non-negotiablethey wont let you take your baby home from the hospital without a car seat, and it should be already installed.
- A going-home outfit. Pack two different outfits in different sizes because you dont know how big or small your baby will be! Aim for one outfit in newborn size and one 0-3 months. Dont forget hats and/or socks, if weather appropriate.
- Your pediatricians contact information. The doctors and nurses will ask you for this information several times, so its good to have it handy. Include the email or fax number for the pediatricians office so they can easily forward your babys medical records.
- Bottles, if youre using. If you plan to bottle-feed from the get go, pack at least two for the hospital. If you plan to formula feed, pack some of your preferred brand, as well, though the hospital will most likely have samples for you.
- Do not bring diapers or wipes! The hospital has all the diapers and wipes youll need. In fact, one Babylist parent suggested bringing an extra bag for all the freebies youll bring home from hospital.
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How To Change Babys Diaper
To change your newborns diaper, make sure you have all supplies on hand. Then, follow these steps:
How To Play With A Newborn
It might not seem like your newborn wants to do much other than sleep and eat for the first months of life. But rest assured your little ones brain is developing rapidly.
A newborn will recognize their parents voices in their first days of life. Talk and read to them often. They also love to see faces.
In the first few months, you can introduce them to the following:
Your newborn wont remember you playing with them, but theyre learning important skills during this time, like interacting with you and the world around them.
If youre concerned about your babys development, talk to their pediatrician.
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