Every family hopes that their baby be born healthy and normal, but should your baby need specialized care, our team of expert neonatologists and neonatal nursing staff will provide it. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Motherhood is a level III unit. We offer the most advanced care for premature and critically ill newborns.
New parents eagerly look forward to bringing their baby home, so it can be frightening if your newborn needs to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). At first it may seem like a foreign place, but understanding the NICU and what goes on there can help ease your fears and let you better help your baby.
Though the environment in the NICU can be intimidating, consider it as a special care nursery for your baby where our expert neonatologists and neonatal nursing staffs will familiarize you with it so you can participate in the care process.
Staff – Level 3 NICUs have a wide variety of staff on site who are available 24 hours a day
Neonatologists – They are pediatricians with additional training in the care of newborn babies.
Neonatal Nurses – Advanced practice nurses who specialize in care of newborns, and doctors in training to be pediatricians, neonatologists or neonatologists
Respiratory Therapists – They perform many roles in the NICU. Their jobs include managing respiratory equipment, providing breathing treatments, drawing and analyzing blood gases, and participating in transports and codes.
Newborn Care – Level 3 NICUs care for babies born at less than 32 weeks gestation as well as babies born with critical illness, at all gestational ages. These facilities offer prompt and readily available access to a full range of pediatric medical sub specialties. They also offer a full range of respiratory support and perform advanced imaging.
Infants in the NICU may need help to breathe or to keep their blood oxygenated. Respiratory equipment in the NICU may include:
- Nasal cannulas: A nasal cannula is a set of small nasal prongs which provide a higher concentration of oxygen than room air. They also deliver room air at a higher flow, which helps to keep airways open and encourage babies to breathe on their own.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, is a mask or a special set of nasal prongs placed firmly on baby’s nose to constantly blow air. The constant pressure encourages open airways and reminds babies to breathe, and higher concentrations of oxygen may be used.
- Ventilators: If a baby is put on a ventilator, then procedure called intubation will be used to place a special tube called an endotracheal tube in the airway through the mouth or nose. The ventilator, or respirator, is the machine that delivers breaths to babies who cannot breathe on their own or who don’t breathe well.
Monitoring Equipment in for Preemies (A Baby Born Prematurely)
In addition to respiratory equipment, infants in special care nurseries are continuously monitored to make sure they are healthy. Monitors commonly used include:
- Cardiac monitors: These use stickers on the chest connected to wires (called leads) that hook up to a monitor to make sure that baby’s heart is beating at the correct speed and with the correct rhythm.
- Respiratory monitors: Often part of the cardiac monitors, these use leads to monitor baby’s breathing rate and pattern.
- Pulse oximeters: These wrap around your baby’s wrist or foot and have a red light that monitors the amount of oxygen in the blood.
IV Equipment for Preemies (A Baby Born Prematurely)
You may be familiar with IVs, or thin tubes that go into the veins to allow staff to infuse fluids or medicines directly into the veins. As part of regular NICU procedures, babies in the NICU may have several types of IV lines:
- Peripheral IVs: These are the “regular” IVs that go into a vein for medications or fluids. Peripheral IVs may be in the feet, hands, arms, or scalps of premature babies. Although scalp IVs look scary to parents, they are very common in the NICU since premature babies don’t always have good veins for IVs in their hands and feet.
- PICC lines: Percutaneously inserted central catheters, or PICC lines for short, look like regular IVs. They have longer catheters, or tubes, than regular IVs, and travel through the vein into the large veins that empty into the heart. Insertion of these lines is one of the procedures NICU babies commonly undergo.
- Umbilical catheters: These are inserted into the umbilical cord stump and travel to the large veins and arteries near the heart. Umbilical lines may be inserted into an artery in the umbilical cord, a vein in the umbilical cord, or both, to allow fluid and medication administration, blood pressure monitoring, painless blood sampling, and other procedures.
Other Equipment in the NICU
While in the NICU, your baby may require additional equipment as well.
- Feeding tubes: A feeding tube travels from the mouth (orogastric- called OG) or from the nose (nasogastric- called NG) to the stomach. Infants who are too sick or weak to eat from the breast or from a bottle receive food through these tubes. Inserting the tubes and giving feedings through them are common procedures among premature babies.
- Incubators: Premature infants have trouble keeping themselves warm, so incubators are used to provide a warm place for baby to rest. Skin probes constantly measure the baby’s temperature, so he or she doesn’t get too warm or too cold.
- Phototherapy: Preemies are more likely to have problems from jaundice. Phototherapy lights, also called bili lights, are special lights that help the baby’s body break down bilirubin, the chemical that causes jaundice.
- A premature birth is when a baby is born alive before the end of the 37th week of pregnancy. A normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. Premature babies generally weigh less than 2,500 grams.
- In 2015, for the first time, the complications of preterm birth outranked all other causes as the world’s number one killer of young children. Of the estimated 6.3 million deaths of children under the age of 5 in 2013, complications from preterm births accounted for nearly 1.1 million deaths.
- India has the highest number of preterm babies being born and the Infant Mortality Rate in the country is 40 per 1,000 live births.