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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) FAQs

  • Q: When will I need to bring my baby back after discharge?
    • The NICU Specialty Nurse will talk with you about follow-up appointments.
    • You will need to choose a Primary Care Physician in your community to which we can refer your baby.
    • You may need to come to a special clinic at ACH, depending on your baby’s diagnosis and need for follow-up.
  • Q: What if I want my baby to go back to the hospital in my community?
    A: The pediatrician at the community hospital must accept the baby. Typically, your baby must be breathing on its own, taking full feeds, and be medically stable.
  • Q: What kind of car seat is best?
    • The car seat choice is very important, especially for a premature infant.
    • A car seat screening is done the week before discharge on some babies to make sure the baby is able to keep his heart rate and breathing stable while riding in the car. The baby will need their personal car seat for this test.
  • Q: Will I get to take care of my baby before going home?
    A: We like for all parents, especially first-time parents, to room in with their baby at least one or two nights before they are discharged home. This will allow you to become comfortable with feedings, medications, or any special equipment that your infant may need at home. This will also allow you to ask questions about how to take care of your baby while you still have the support of the NICU team members
  • Q: What do I need to know about going home?
    • Click here for “Things to Know Before You Go” booklet
    • The baby will have a hearing screen and an eye exam (in most cases).
    • Immunizations may be given prior to discharge.
    • The nurse practitioner or physician will order any medications the baby needs at home and you will be given prescriptions to fill at a pharmacy.
    • The nurse or a pharmacist will explain what the medications are for and how to give them to your baby.
  • Q: How long will my baby be here?
    • Each baby is different. As a general guide, premature babies will be here  until near the expected due date.
    • The things a baby needs to be able to do before going home are breathe on his/her own (with or without oxygen support), keep his/her temperature within normal limits, take all of his/her feedings by breast, bottle, or stomach tube, and have consistent weight gain.
  • Q: What if I have financial, social or spiritual needs?
    A: The NICU has Social Workers to help with social and financial needs and a Chaplain who can listen to you and support you and your baby with any spiritual needs.
  • Q: Who do I voice concerns to about my baby or my baby's care?
    A: We encourage you to voice your concerns about your baby’s care and ask questions. First, you are encouraged to talk to the baby’s nurse. If you need further assistance, the coordinator (charge nurse) can be contacted. A Patient Family Representative is available if concerns cannot be resolved on the unit level.
  • Q: What is kangaroo care or skin-to-skin?
    • This refers to holding your baby to your bare chest. Studies have shown that this can benefit both the baby and the parent. During kangaroo care, the baby’s vital signs are usually more stable, and the baby is better able to regulate body temperature.
    • Parents should wear a button down shirt so that the baby is easily accessible in an emergency. Babies on ventilators can be held if approved by the physician.
  • Q: How can I get more information about my baby's condition?
    A: Staff can provide you with handouts and information about things specific to your baby including breastfeeding, disease processes, development according to gestational age, discharge teaching, etc. There are also books available in the waiting room for parents to check out and read.
  • Q: What is my role in caring for my baby?
    • We want our parents to become involved in the care of their baby. Our goal is for you to become the primary caregiver while we provide support for you in this role. We respect and value your input, suggestions, and requests. We encourage you to learn as much as possible about your baby.
    • Some infants who are very sick or premature can be very sensitive to stimulation and are unable to cope with noise, handling, etc. Your nurse will help guide you in the ways which allow you to interact with your baby. This will allow your baby to rest and heal while continuing to bond with you. Click here for the Parenting Based on the Developmental Progression of Preterm Infants Guide.
  • Q: How do I get into the Ronald McDonald House?
    A: The Family Services Attendant in the waiting room can assist you.
  • Q: Where is the gift shop?
    A: In front of Admissions at the front of the hospital.
  • Q: Where is the cafeteria and chapel?
    A: On the 2nd floor.  Turn right out of the yellow elevator on the second floor, turn left at the first hall.
  • Q: Where is the Admissions Department?
    A: At the front of the hospital on the first floor. Turn right out of the yellow elevator and take the next available left. Then take the next right and go to the front of the hospital.
  • Q: When I see my baby for the first time what can I expect?
    • We have many highly technical and sophisticated monitors and machines to help your baby get better. Your baby may be on a special bed called a radiant warmer which keeps baby warm without being bundled in a blanket. This allows staff to see and easily access your baby to provide nursing care. The baby’s heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure will be constantly displayed on a monitor.
    • Many babies require help breathing and may have a small tube inserted into the windpipe and be attached to a ventilator (breathing machine).  Other babies may be under an oxygen hood or wear a nasal cannula to help with breathing.
    • Most babies are not able to eat immediately after admission and will receive nutrition through an IV device.
    • We encourage parents to focus on their baby, rather than the monitors and machines. We will be glad to explain the use of the machines in the NICU when you are at the bedside.
  • Q: Can I have the same nurse all the time?
    A: Many families bond with one or more nurses and would like them to care for their baby all the time. This is called “primary nursing”. If you would like the same nurse please ask the nurse or the coordinator (charge nurse). Sometimes there are scheduling conflicts, but we will try and honor your request for a nurse if possible.
  • Q: Who is responsible for the care of my baby?
    • The ACH NICU team consists of an attending Neonatologist who is the leader of the team.
    • A Pediatric Medical Resident or Nurse Practitioner work with the Neonatologist to provide medical care for your baby.
    • General Pediatricians may also be involved in caring for your infant during their hospital stay in the NICU.
    • The bedside nurse will provide daily nursing care for your baby and will be able to answer many of your questions.
    • There are several other team members involved in your baby’s care.
  • Q: How can I get information about my baby?
    • The NICU team provides 24 hour medical care to your baby.  We encourage you to use the 1-800# provided by a transport team member to get updates from your baby’s nurse each day if you are unable to visit in person.  If you want more information, the best time to speak to your baby’s primary medical team is during the day. 
    • To help ensure confidentiality, parents will select a code word shortly after admission.  Medical information over the phone will only be given to parents after they provide the code word to the nursing staff.
  • Q: When can I spend time with my baby?
    • Parents are encouraged to visit at any time during the day except when the nursing staff is giving report (6:30 am-8:30 am and 6:30 pm-7:30 pm).
    • Other visitors over the age of 14 may visit from 9:00 am-9:00pm.
    • Siblings over the age of 2 can visit following a screening questionnaire regarding immunizations and contagious conditions.
    • Anyone except grandparents must be accompanied by a parent when visiting the baby.
  • Q: Where will my baby be admitted?
    A: Newly admitted babies are in a large room referred to as a “pod” with several other babies where they can be constantly observed and cared for by staff members.
  • Q: What do I do when I arrive at the NICU?
    • Every time you enter the NICU, please ask the secretary at the front desk if you may visit your baby.
    • It is a good idea to ask for your baby by name rather than by bed space since your baby’s bed location may change several times during the hospital stay.
    • The secretary will ask you to wash your hands and arms and put on a cover gown to protect your baby from germs.
    • You may pick up an admission pamphlet at the front desk which contains useful information and answers to many of your questions.
    • The NICU waiting area is located near the unit to provide a place where family members can rest. The waiting area has chairbeds, lockers, bathrooms and showers. After 9:00 pm, only the parents of the infant are allowed in the waiting area.
  • Q: How do I get to the NICU?

    The NICU is located on the 3rd floor of the Southwest wing by the yellow elevators. Click here for a list of Hospital maps.

General Information


ACH NICU Reunion April 2014

New Parent Planner - Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) child care guide.

Health Info
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