The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is a special area in the hospital where newborns who are in need of intensive medical attention are admitted. Health care professionals who are trained on specialized care and advanced technology are responsible for the care of these newborns.
Small babies, especially those who are born premature needs extra warmth. So, they are placed in an incubator instead of a regular cot to keep them warm and cozy. Some incubators have open tops, so you would still have skin-to-skin contact with your baby. Closed incubators can still allow you to touch your baby through holes where you can put your hands through. Practice proper hand washing to prevent harmful pathogens to come in contact with the baby.
A newborn may undergo phototherapy if neonatal jaundice lasts very long for up to 2-3 weeks. This treatment is important because it helps to lower the biliburin levels in the blood through photo-oxidation. This will also prevent your baby from getting brain damage as is the cause of increased levels of bilirubin in the blood.
- Intravenous feeding
There are instances when a preterm baby cannot take anything by mouth. So, in order for them to get adequate nutrition, an IV line is inserted to supply them with water, glucose, sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. A more concentrated solution might be given for better nutrition if the infant badly needs it.
- Blood transfusions
Blood transfusions are expected to be done on infants whose blood-forming organs are still immature. This makes them unable to produce enough red blood cells. The other reason may be that these babies may be losing a lot of blood sue to a series of blood tests taken.
- Blood and urine tests
Your baby may be required to have hematocrit and hemoglobin tests, blood urea and nitrogen, chemical salts and blood gases testing. This is to ensure that everything is functioning properly within the baby’s body. Urine is also collected to test for pH level, sugar, protein and blood content.
X-rays are routinely done to see if the baby’s lungs are functioning normally. This is also done to check the abdomen to see if the baby can tolerate the parenteral feedings.
Ultrasound is another important procedure done, especially for preterm babies. This is to check for hemorrhage in the brain or if there are signs determining periventricular leukomalacia. This condition means there is damage to the white matter that surrounds the ventricles of the brain.
These procedures may seem scary to a parent, but trusting the hands of capable health care providers to take care of your baby in the NICU, is also important to make sure your baby gets better.