September 09, 2021
Educator Resources to Share with Families During NICU Awareness Month
By: Sharon Muza, BS, CD/BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE | 0 Comments
September is Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Awareness Month. Families do not plan or expect to end up in the NICU with their baby, but premature births, or medical conditions at birth, mean that a baby will need specialized care for a period of time that could be just a few hours after birth or extend many months, until a baby is healthy enough to go home.
Having a newborn in the NICU and recovering from giving birth and attempting to initiate and protect milk production all at the same time compounds stress, emotional and physical recovery and financial concerns that many families already struggle with as they grow their families.
As childbirth educators, families in our classes may find themselves with a new baby weeks or months before expected, and possibly before any classes were completed. Alternatively, health concerns may mean new parents leave the hospital while their newborn remains in-patient. Educators should consider including supportive resources for families who may find themselves facing a NICU stay with their child.
Consider creating an info sheet for your students with some tips and helpful resources that families can access if they find themselves becoming a “NICU family.” The resources listed below, collated by NICUAwareness.org, may be useful to include:
Peek-a-boo ICU - Created by a NICU RN, this site strives to empower the ICU parent with an online forum as well as provides information and resources to parents and family members
Caring Bridge - Free patient websites that allows parents to keep family updated during a serious health event
Kids Health - Common reasons for a NICU stay, conditions, what causes them, how they're diagnosed, and how they're treated
Kids Health / NICU - When a baby is in the NICU
Kids Health / Health Issues - For when a baby is born with a health problem
Share Your Story - The Parent to Parent section was created for Share Your Story community members to ask questions, raise concerns, and lend some advice about parenting a premature baby, a baby with a birth defect or talk about issues pertaining to pregnancy and infant loss.
Photographing Your Baby in the NICU - A helpful article that gives tips on photographing a child in the NICU.
Postpartum Support International - An organization that is dedicated to helping people suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum depression, the most common complication of childbirth.
Ronald McDonald House Charities - A foundation that provides a “home-away-from-home” for families so they can stay close by their hospitalized child at little or no cost.
Family Care Notebook (Levine Children's Hospital) - a supportive and useful journal to help a family organize information during their baby's NICU stay.
Postpartum Depression - Provides the latest up-to-date information and free resources for families in danger and at risk.
Graham's Foundation - Their vision is a world where no parent goes through the experience of prematurity alone.
Carter's Cause - Carter's Cause is on a mission to provide resources and support to parents living the NICU journey, parents grieving from infant loss, as well as the family and friends who form their support group.
Mighty Little Giants - Mighty Little Giants (MLG), a National 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that advocates through providing support, education and hope for parents experiencing pre-term deliveries resulting in long-term stays in the hospitals’ NICU.
NICU Helping Hands - NICU Helping Hands provides parent support and education for families before, during and after a NICU stay and in the event of an infant death.
Hand to Hold - Provides comprehensive navigation resources and support programs to parents of preemies, babies born with special health care needs and those who have experienced a loss due to these or other complications.
EFMP + Special Needs - Support for military families with special needs family members is provided through the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP).
Nurtured by Design - specializing in developmentally supportive care and Kangaroo Mother Care for all babies, especially those that born prematurely or with medical issues.
Baby First providing educational resources and support to caregivers and parents of premature infants.
PreemieWorld created to help bridge the gap between parent and professional in the NICU, at home and beyond.
I always make sure to include information about connecting with the NICU social worker, who can be a remarkable asset during a very stressful time. Many NICUs also hold peer to peer support meetings, where families can connect with others going through similar experiences.
I encourage the class community to offer support and connection to the family experiencing this unexpected situation, as well as my own messages of encouragement and good thoughts as well on an on-going basis.
What information do you share for the families in your classes who may experience a NICU stay for their infant? Please share in the comments below.
TagsChildbirth education Prematurity NICU Newborns Sharon Muza Neonatal Intensive Care Unit NICU Awareness Month