It is normal and very expected for NICU parents to have a LOT of questions. Questions about what an NICU is, who all the people are, how all of the equipment works, what medications do, what are tests for and what do the results mean, what exams look for, what do certain diagnosis means, what should they expect, and what will happen for them as a family during their NICU journey.
When families have the ability to stay with their child around the clock, they are afforded the time and opportunity to ask those questions! Doctors, nurses, therapists and care managers are accessible and can be reached quite easily. The second benefit is that being in person, parents have time to hear those answers. They can hear the answer from multiple staff as well, getting the perspectives of multiple individuals.
With the current visitation restrictions and isolation rules occurring, parents are sharing that they are struggling to get their questions answered. Not only because they are limited in their time at the hospital, but they are also limited in access to those that can answer those questions when social distancing is in full force.
We want to help ANSWER those questions!
We wanted to be a resource for families so they could ASK their questions, and get answers from professionals who know the NICU world the best. Here are some of the most common questions we received, and what the answers were:
Q: Why can't we visit the NICU more if we are not sick and practicing stay at home measures?
A: This is a great question, and we understand how difficult it is to be restricted with visitation policies. Unfortunately, babies that are in the NICU are extremely fragile as their immune systems are not fully mature yet. COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease, and unfortunately people may be infected and not even know it. There are stages of the virus when the person is asymptomatic, which means they so no signs of illness at all. Yet, they spread the virus when going out. Sadly, not all individuals are practicing social distancing and stay home orders either, which makes is more challenging to know who is healthy and who is not. While your baby's safety and health is the top priority, please know that staff are saddened by the restrictions just as much as you are, because they know how important time together is!
Q: If we don't leave the hospital at all, can't we just stay there around the clock?
A: Some neonatal units may be able to accommodate "rooming in" options for families, and each hospital will be making decisions based on what is safest for the patients. Unfortunately, hospital resources really need to be dedicated to patients and staff though, and if parents were to stay around the clock, they would inevitably be using the same resources. Basic things such as hospital food, toilet paper and hand sanitizer would be necessary to use if parents "lived" with their baby. If every parent did that, or if every patient in the hospital had a companion staying with them, resources would be taken away from the patients that need care and the providers that need to provide that care. While everyone working in neonatal care would LOVE to have parents stay around the clock with their child, sadly this is a time that patients and providers' needs have to come first.
Q: I hate not being there to comfort my baby. What can I do to support them when I am not able to be there?
A: Feeling helpless as a parent during this social distancing is overwhelming. And unfortunately it's a feeling known by millions around the world right now as parents are not able to be with their children, and children are unable to be with their parents. BUT, there are things you can do to support your baby and feel more connected during this time.
A: Anxiety and depression are common during any NICU journey, so with the added stress of what is going on during this pandemic is absolutely understandable. And we are VERY proud of you for recognizing the signs of mental health difficulties and asking for help! There are several things you can do; some are FREE and some require some resources.
If you have questions, post them here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep Following for more tips on how to survive this COVID-19 outbreak!
Up next: Q&A with NICU Parents- Part II