Being a NICU mom can be hard and at times Exhausting. There were so many times that I would search for info on Preemies and any tips to make it easier, but I only found information on the hardships and how to get through it emotionally. What I was really looking for was for tips AFTER I was somewhat emotionally stable. The tips on breast pumping, what to do at the hospital, how to deal with not being around people since I was on Disability Leave from my surgery.
My baby was admitted into the NICU at 24 weeks which is the earliest that doctors will admit a Micro Preemie. My baby was going to be in the NICU for the long haul and I would be at the hospital for about 3 months nearing her due date. After the first month I felt I was able to physically continue with daily activities. I had created a daily routine for getting ready to see my baby at the hospital. Wake up, pump, put the milk away, wash the pumping tools, shower, get dressed, eat, get pumping tools together to take to the hospital, go to the hospital, hold baby, put baby back, read to baby, take pictures of baby, talk to doctor, pump, then go home. There were a couple things I left out but you get the idea.
For your benefit, I’ve compiled a list of tips that helped my husband and I get it together while our baby was at the NICU. There is no need to miss out on your babies moments, you’ll want to remember what your baby overcame.
List of tips and hacks for a FTM/NICU Mom
- Take Pictures Constantly – I am amazed at how fast babies grow. I take pictures daily but have a specific teddy I take every week to compare. Once the baby is out, create a timeline showing how much your baby grew every week at the NICU.
- Shrink Preemie Clothes – It is tough finding preemie clothes there isn’t much variety. BUT if you find something you love that doesn’t fit her/him, Shrink it. Washing cotton with hot water helps with this. Carter’s also does an awesome job at making cute preemie clothes.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions – There will be days when you have a nice nurse and a mean nurse, same thing with a doctor, but ASK QUESTIONS. This is your treasure, a child you are responsible for so make sure you know about everything that is going on. Sometimes I asked twice, just be fully informed about everything that is going on but it would help with any anxiety I had with baby being at the hospital.
- Dads…wear V-Necks and Button-Ups – Dear father, thank you volunteering to kangaroo your baby, he/she will love it. Just please make sure to wear a loose v-neck or a button up. This will make it comfortable for both you and the baby, and you won’t mess up any shirts!
- Bring a Mirror – This comes in handy when you’re kangaroo-ing the baby. My nurses tended to place the baby’s head right under my chin so I could never see her facial reactions when holding her. Having a mirror handy to look at him/her will provide a pleasant view as the both of you enjoy a good cuddle session.
- Buy Lots of Blankets – Receiving blankets that is. When your baby is ready to be swaddled, you’ll want to personalize her stay. I kept feeling so embarrassed when the nurse would suggest that I bring her a blanket but I didn’t have any available. Make sure they’re washed with non-fragrance detergent too before bringing it in. Same goes for his/her clothes.
- Get a Travel Bag – Include cleaning wipes, breast pump tools, cooler to bring fresh pumped milk, books, journal for notes and a toy. This will be your bag to keep ready when you go see your baby.
- Go to Socials if available – If your hospital holds socials, I would advise you go to them. You can get to know your nurses and social workers as well as other NICU moms.
- Plan to take classes – If you hospital provides these classes I also advise you take them. CPR and discharge classes will help prepare you for your baby and for when she’s ready to come home.
- Massage The Scar – I waited a month before I felt comfortable massaging the scar from my c-section. This doesn’t go for everyone, but it helps to break up the scar tissue. You want to use a kneading motion pushing up, down and side to side and adding pressure BUT only what you can tolerate.
- Hold a pillow against your c-section when sneezing/coughing-I found this to be very helpful.
- Be YOU – talk to the baby, read, sing, nap, whatever. You’re spending time with your baby, and though there isn’t much privacy your baby still needs to learn who mommy and daddy is. So be you!
Hope these tips help make your baby’s stay a little more pleasant. She will love you for it, and although she can’t fully express herself, believe me she will thank you for it.