- Put together an expressing kit to take with you wherever you go. Include sterile bottles/containers/jars, shields, valves and tubing for pumping, baby’s hospital labels and a pen. This can all be kept in a cooler/insulated bag, ready for use. Don’t forget to take your electric or hand pump with you if you are going to need it.
- If you are expressing, the expressing room is a great place to meet other mum’s. Even if you are shy, it’s really worth it, and before long you won’t even realise what you are doing.
- Start a journal/diary about your baby’s NICU/SCN journey. You can include information daily about baby’s condition, medications, weight, and other circumstances and events such as coming off a ventilator, graduating to a hot cot, operations needed, first bath, first breastfeed or suck feed, etc.
- Talk to other parents in NICU/SCN. You will probably be surprised at how many parents want to share their experiences and feelings with others who are going through the same thing. You can build friendships and support each other.
- If you don’t understand what a Doctor has told you, ask them again, and again, and again until you understand, and then the next day and the next day when you’ve forgotten.
- A frozen meal for lunch or dinner makes a good ice pack for transporting EBM to the hospital.
- Dress your little one in their own clothes if the unit allows it. This may not be possible until your baby is stable enough and provided clothing doesn’t interfere with leads or lines.
- Decorate baby’s incubator if the unit permits it.Don’t be afraid to do your little one’s cares. The nurses will help you and show you how.
- Keep asking for kangaroo cuddles if your baby is stable.
- Invest in a good hand cream to combat dry, cracked hands.
- Do whatever you need to to feel OK and if that means calling up the hospital at all hours, so you can sleep a little better, do it. You might be up expressing anyway!
- Take care of yourself, eat lots of healthy snacks, drink lots of water.
- Have hand sanitiser in your purse, for all the times you touch elevator buttons, EFTPOS machines, hand rails etc in the hospital. You need to take every measure to not catch a cold, because it is upsetting to be at home and not be able to visit your child.
- Read stories to your baby and sing to your baby. They know your voice and will be soothed and reassured by it.
- Take your own coffee cup and cutlery to use for lunch.
- Educate yourself, read books on Premmies, surf the internet.
- Celebrate every step, every milestone, with photos, cards to baby, video footage, even a cake.
- Ask the nurses to take foot and hand prints if baby is stable enough to do so. When baby is stable enough, it is a great idea to have hand and foot casts/impressions made. You will be surprised at how fast they will grow!
- Ask to keep old leads, arm bands, phototherapy masks, etc.
- Most importantly, don’t blame yourself, let go of the guilt
Photography tips & handy hints
- Light/flash reflects of the Perspex/plastic of the incubator. Have the side or top open if possible.
- Many units have a digital camera. Ask nurses to take photos of any significant or special moments that happen while you’re not there.
- You can put mum or dads wedding band on baby’s arm as a size comparison or use something else next to baby to show how small they are. A tennis ball is good for comparison or lay “normal” newborn baby clothes next to baby and photograph.
- Take photos while doing cares.
- If baby’s bedding needs changing, ask if you can put your hands in the incubator and hold baby up in your 2 hands while the sheets/blankets are changed – this makes a beautiful photo.
- Take video footage as well as photos
The material provided here is for informational purposes only and should not replace, or be used as a substitute for, professional medical advice
Sources: National Premmie Foundation