The established order in the NICU

The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is a closed unit in terms of staff, patients and relatives and is a territory with restricted access. It will be useful to ask one of the nurses to show you the unit and to inform you of internal order in it to know what to expect. Each unit works differently, but there are some standard practices that are respected everywhere.

Answers to premature baby parents’ frequently asked questions

How is my baby, what information do I get and from whom?

The neonatologist provides information to the mother and / or father as soon as possible after birth, and after the baby receives care according to the first condition. It is better if this happens in the presence of both parents. The information includes: weight and height of the baby, morphological maturity (gestational weeks), how was it born, baby’s first cry, what resuscitation measures were applied, where it is placed (intensive care sector, special care sector), incubator, application of assisted ventilation, oxygen treatment, and so on. The neonatologist evaluates the child's condition, outlines what the possibilities are and the appropriate behavior. If there are test results, he communicates them and explains them, and outlines what the treatment plan is, according to the disease and the condition of the premature baby.

When can I see my child?

If the condition of the mother allows it (natural birth without anesthesia), she can see child as early as possible. In surgical delivery - after stabilizing her condition. In most NICUs, the father could see the child after birth.

To whom can I ask questions?

Your questions and all your worries should be addressed to the treating neonatologist, the doctor who replaces him or the doctor on duty.

How often and for how long can I see my child?

The neonatology team takes entire care for your premature baby in the early days and according to the severity of his condition. You can see your baby according to the regulated by the department time span. In some wards it is once a day, in others - three times a day, or for 15 minutes every three hours. After stabilizing the condition, feeding should be started and you can take care of nutrition. Nurses / midwives help you and guide you in the preparation and technique of breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. They teach you how to prepare for breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, how to access to the child when it is in an incubator, what you need to watch while feeding and after that, how to hold the baby, about swallowing, belching, placing after meals, etc.

Колко често мога да виждам детето си

Can I touch it?

Of course! You can and should do. Babies need contact with their parents. Your doctor or nurse will show you how to make this contact.

What rules must be respected in terms of hygiene and prevention from infections?

You must be wearing overshoes with insulation wrap (isolated front of the body), well washed and disinfected hands, gloves if there is damaged skin of the hands (wounds), and place a mask in cases of fever, cough, herpes labialis, etc. Touching the little baby is an incomparable emotional experience for parents.

What if the mother is sick or the family members who come to visit are sick?

Direct contact with a premature baby is not recommended when the mother is sick (fever, sneezing, coughing, malaise, etc.). A short duration visit without opening the incubator is possible when abiding by the above hygienic measures. Information on the condition of the baby is given additionally on neutral territory (in the room of the mother, if not yet discharged, or in a special room for this purpose). The decision to visit in such cases will be taken by your neonatologist. In severe illness of the mother, the doctor gives detailed information about the baby at the mother's bed. This happens twice a day: before noon (by the treating neonatologist) and in the evening (from the neonatologist on duty). The father is offered to see the baby and then the parents are left alone. The nurse shows the baby to the mother. If its condition allows, it may be removed briefly from the incubator. It is not recommended that sick family members visit the mother and the premature baby.

What happens if the child should be transported to another hospital?

Transporting premature baby is carried out according to the medical standard of neonatology, the regulated levels of competence and the inter-hospital transport indications. The neonatologist who was present at birth informs as soon as possible the mother and / or the father and other relatives of the child's condition and the need for transportation to another hospital. He explains what has been done so far, what treatment, tests and other manipulations are needed and that the hospital, where baby will be transported to, is equipped for the treatment and care of such children. There will be information on how it will be transported, by whom and when. The doctor explains exactly the name of the hospital, the department, the name of the doctor on duty who will admit their baby. A contact phone number is given for information. It is necessary the mother or the father to sign an informed consent for the transport.

Can other family members visit the baby?

Yes, they could. This can be done in the appropriate hours, after consultation with the treating neonatologist, and following the consent of the mother and the father.

What happens after the mother has been discharged from the maternity ward - visits, getting information? How?

All NICUs give daily information about the baby after discharge of the mother –the dynamic of its condition, occurring complications or improvements, test results, treatment, consultations done and planned, how the baby is being fed, the weight of that day, etc. Information can be obtained on site or by phone during the regulated by the unit hours. Access to the child is also according to the regulated internal order.

When are the babies examined? What do they get - medications, devices, tests, manipulations, what to expect, etc..

Do not hesitate to ask the physician questions. It will be useful to consider them in advance (write them down) so that you do not miss anything at the meeting. He will answer and could determine approximate dates for certain problems, and could discuss problems of mutual decision in the near and distant future.

From whom can you expect help in feeding, taking care etc.?

Nurses and / or midwives working in these units have professional experience and qualifications. Some are trained lactation consultants. Ask for them. They will encourage you, help you and demonstrate techniques of breastfeeding of your baby, how to hold it during breastfeeding, and after that bottle-feeding technique, etc.

If you need additional information, you can connect the voluntary lactation consultants in various organizations. Such are the National Association "Support for Breastfeeding" (National Association for Breastfeeding Support) – and La Leche League Bulgaria –

Who takes care of the babies - feeding, bathing, etc.?

Nurses take care for your baby around the clock - bathing, skin care, umbilical residue, navel, nose, eyes, ears, dressing, feeding, weighing, monitoring and a number of other specific manipulations for premature babies.

Welcome to  "All About Premature Babies" website.
This is a project of "Our premature babies" Foundation based in Bulgaria. The book is a result of a team’s hardwork that includes doctors, psychologists, breastfeeding consultants and premature babies parents. The common information about premature babies which you can find here will help you understand better the situation you've been facing.
Please keep in mind that some of the information related to the neonatal intensive care units is prevalent only in Bulgaria.

We hope that this website and the book are going to help you to be more informed, calm and confident. We wish you and your baby best of luck and health.

Our Premature Children Foundation. © 2015. All rights reserved. The content in this website is subject of copyright. Publishing, copying and using content from this website is permitted only with mandatory reference to the source!