NICU Diaries: 7 Essential Items for Parents During Your Baby’s NICU Stay

While our son Judah continues to grow and get stronger here in the NICU, my husband and I have settled into the strange and at times surreal routine of life of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Considering we’re also 300 miles from home, we’re quickly adapting to our transient situation, however temporary. As we help care for our preemie baby, here are the 7 essential items helping to make our life in the NICU a little more normal.

  • NICU Diaries: Our Life in the NICU

    NICU Diaries: Our Life in the NICU

    Welcome to tales from our lives as new parents with our son in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unite (NICU).

  • 1. Moisturizing Hand Lotion

    1. Moisturizing Hand Lotion

    You’ll learn quickly just how dry your hands get from washing them over and over. At our NICU, we have to do a surgical scrub for three minutes before we can even enter the unit. An intensive moisturizing lotion is a must.

    Photo by Keiko Zoll

  • 2. Short Sleeved Shirts

    2. Short Sleeved Shirts

    All that hand washing and hand sanitizing means you’ll have to roll up your sleeves. If the weather permits, try to wear short sleeves or sleeves that you can easily roll up when you can.

    Photo by Keiko Zoll

  • 3. A Way to Secure Your Jewelry

    3. A Way to Secure Your Jewelry

    Because we have to scrub up to our elbows every time we enter the NICU, all watches, bracelets, rings and other hand or wrist jewelry has to come off. Rather than simply tucking our wedding rings in our pockets, I keep mine on a chain around my neck.

    Photo by Keiko Zoll

  • 4. Something to Read

    4. Something to Read

    Preemie babies spend a lot of time sleeping, so there’s a good chance you’ll be doing a lot of sitting around gazing at your sleeping baby. It’s a good idea to bring something to read. You can also bring books to read to your baby.

    Photo by Keiko Zoll

  • 5. Water Bottles

    5. Water Bottles

    Hospitals tend to be very dry places; if your baby’s temperature is being regulated by an incubator or isolette, you’ll also feel the ambient rise in temperature in your room. All this dry heat can make you parched fast, so keep a couple of water bottles on hand to stay hydrated.

    Photo by Keiko Zoll

  • 6. Hands-Free Pumping Bra & Nursing Cover

    6. Hands-Free Pumping Bra & Nursing Cover

    If you intend to breastfeed, you’ll need to start using a breast pump right away, since your preemie is often too little to latch. The breast pump simulates your baby’s suckling to help stimulate your milk production. Free up your hands and give yourself a little privacy by investing in a good pumping bra and nursing cover.

    Photo by Keiko Zoll

  • 7. Mom’s After-Care Kit

    7. Mom’s After-Care Kit

    Whether you gave birth naturally or via c-section, new moms have very specific after-care procedures to help their bodies heal. Keep a bag handy that can travel with you back and forth between hospital and home so you can stay on top of your after-care no matter where you are.

    Photo by Keiko Zoll

After 15 days in the NICU, we still don’t have a definite date of when we get to bring home Judah. These items have been essential to our NICU experience so far… hopefully we get to take our son home soon!

Parents of preemies: what other items were essential to your NICU stay experience?

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