holding your baby in the NICU

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Re: holding your baby in the NICU

Post by beans_mom_1 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 08:09 pm

My son was born at 32 weeks and was in the NICU for about 4 weeks-- until he reached 4 pounds. I cannot remember how much I got to hold him, but I do remember having to touch him through the holes they had at the side of his incubator. I was so nervous to touch him.

We did kangaroo care once but he was asleep a lot of the time that I got to see him at the hospital. I stayed in the hospital for about 7 days total and was so tired and so drugged and already post-partum. I felt no connection for awhile. I felt like he wasn't mine. It was strange. I remember crying at home when he was in the NICU wondering if I would ever feel "connected". I had trouble pumping and breastfeeding. I honestly don't think he could latch properly because my milk-production was running low. Part of the issue was that when I started to pump, I had no idea what I was doing and my insurance company and I were having issues and denied coverage for the hospital-grade pump. I was already stressed and hormonal--worried, to say the least.

Anyway, I can't say I got to hold my son a lot in the NICU, but I cherished the time when both of us got to go to the nursing room away from the nurses so we could hang out together and to bond :)

Re: holding your baby in the NICU

Post by toes_in_the_sand » Sun Feb 19, 2012 05:26 pm

I had a 35 weeker (5 days NICU) and a 33 weeker (3 weeks NICU). If our 33 weeker had not had A/O incompatibility & Coombs positive (hence, severe jaundice) then we would have been able to hold her 24 hours a day (minus 30 minutes twice a day for nurse shift change) if we wanted to. Our NICU is very pro skin-to-skin. Once I was off the mag sulfate I was able to hold her for about 4 hours skin-to-skin before her 2 week stay under the lights. Then I was only allowed to hold her for her feedings.

Re: holding your baby in the NICU

Post by jean » Thu Jul 21, 2011 05:30 pm

Thank you for the information! I really appreciate it! (Esp about the rocking too..I was really wondering about that!)

There were a few things that happened w/our son that made me think something was wrong last time...I held him a few days before he was diagnosed w/NEC and every time he would move even a teeny bit he would make this sound like "ehh"..and his stats kept falling on the monitor the day before he was sick. I noticed that you could really see the veins through his skin as well. I mentioned all of this to the nurses, but they said it was all nothing and normal. :~(
Soon after he was born, they told us that they pulled a bunch of bile out of him (either his stomach or intestine)..I wasn't sure if that was normal or not.
Also, they were really struggling with getting him to poop..they were giving him suppositories. Eventually he did poop the meconium, and the day before he was diagnosed with NEC he pooped a big diarrhea type poop. (no blood though)

I'm just wondering, is there anything I can look for in a future pg to alarm myself of NEC. Even if the nurses aren't seeing it? I wish I had demanded testing to be done on our son, but I didn't even know about the existance of NEC, and I truly thought that each day he was doing better and gaining weight and getting stronger. :~( I thought that if the nurses weren't concerned about the things I mentioned, that I should let it go. But in retrospect, I hate myself for not pushing further.

Re: holding your baby in the NICU

Post by audrey s. » Thu Jul 21, 2011 01:32 am

No one had held my daughter yet and she was 37 weeks...and she still got NEC and needed drastic surgery to survive at 48 hours old. PLEASE don't torture yourself. They don't know what causes it, but w/premies as little as yours, the thought is that the gut is tissue-thin and so bacteria can get in and out, it's not much of a barrier in these guys. It's a heartbreaking disease because it's very hard to prevent if it is going to happen. And no, rocking isn't harmful, or they wouldn't have the chairs there. Babies in utero are used to movement, it's their norm. When they're in the isolette, they don't get to move much at all. The rhythm of rocking actually helps normalize vital signs sometimes.

I like the idea of checking with the local NICU about their policies prior to considering this again. Our NICU wouldn't let me hold my daughter until a couple of days post-op, which means she had to have been 4-5 days old at that point. I think I'd held her once before but I was so stoned on the mag sulfate that I have almost no memory of even being able to see her with the cerebral edema and no glasses. In the NICUs where I've worked, they've allowed kangaroo holding with most babies 1000 gms and above. Even with the smaller guys, they encourage holding hands, and they give you a "lovey" that you put into your bra, then they put it up against the baby in the isolette so they carry your smell and warmth to the baby. If a baby's vital signs aren't stable (they have trouble keeping his oxygen levels up, for example), then they won't let you hold him. But a baby who can maintain their heart rate and saturation levels should be able to be held. They monitor the vital signs; it's pretty easy for the trained eye to see when a baby is being stressed.

I have known NICU nurses who are, to put it mildly, controlling (I vividly remember an argument with an RN about swaddling). It is more work for them to work with you in kangaroo care and other comforting measures. Hopefully, none of you will ever have a NICU baby again! But finding out the policies, and knowing what the literature says (in some small towns, you may be more current than the nursing staff, sadly), will help you advocate for a baby's needs...if you ever have to go through this again. I hope no one here ever does!

Before my daughter was born, I had worked with NEC babies. It's a disease that breaks my heart, all the more so that my daughter will always pay the price. Unfortunately, it cost her entire large intestine, three surgeries (and probably more) and the caution that pregnancy would be extremely hazardous for her. I know, I have her, and I'm grateful every day. But it was close, and I can only imagine your pain and your fears.

Re: holding your baby in the NICU

Post by alexa5 » Wed Jul 20, 2011 01:14 pm

That is strange that so many were not able to hold their baby much. My son was born at just under 34 weeks, so he was just under 4 lbs, so maybe it was due to his size and being pretty stabile, but we were always encouraged to hold him. I know the early days in the NICU we did kangaroo care once, and otherwise they always let us take turns holding him. I also remember they wanted us to help with the temp readings and diaper changes on one of our very first visits--to help us feel a part of his care. He was in the NICU for 2 weeks I think and that was never an issue.

Re: holding your baby in the NICU

Post by patty » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:48 am

Please don't blame yourself. Holding your baby did not hurt him at all. I am sad for you that you did not get to hold him more. It really depends on what all is going on with the baby on whether they will let you hold them or not. I hear about Kangaroo care all the time but we never got to do that because of chest tubes. I did not get to hold my baby for the first 5 days and just barely after that and he still got NEC. Thankfully he recovered. Please don't blame yourself NEC is horrible and is just from the prematurity there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. ((hugs))

Re: holding your baby in the NICU

Post by jean » Mon Jun 06, 2011 06:10 pm

That's a great link-thanks!

I was wondering if most NICU's raise the amount of time you can hold your child as they get older...(I never got to breastfeed, so I would imagine you'd have to have some more contact in order to that(?) but then daddy wouldn't get as much time holding the baby...

Having a baby in the NICU is so hard..

Re: holding your baby in the NICU

Post by blythe » Mon Jun 06, 2011 05:58 pm

My firstborn was in the NICU for four days even though he was 37 weeks, and the nurses said the same things and didn't want me holding him much. Then I read tons about kangaroo care (like kerisue said) but I had to assume it was a fringe / unsupported practice. But the March of Dimes recommends it http://www.marchofdimes.com/baby/inthen ... ocare.html . If I go on this PE roller coaster again I plan to talk to the NICU / neonatologist ahead of time and see what their views / hospital policy is on it.

Re: holding your baby in the NICU

Post by jean » Mon Jun 06, 2011 03:34 pm

Yep, that's exactly what I'm thinking! :)

Re: holding your baby in the NICU

Post by aajatwins » Mon Jun 06, 2011 03:29 pm

I don't really consider my boys preemies because I was 36w and they were 5lbs14oz and 6lbs3oz, but Jordan (the big one at birth) did spend 4 days in the NICU. Because he only had trouble slowing his breathing, we were allowed to hold him 30 mins after he was fed and only for 30 mins at a time (I think that was it, but it's hard to remember). So the bigger and more stable they are, the more you are allowed to hold them, I guess.

I'm really only answering because I feel like you are thinking a lot about how this next go-round will be different and what you might experience! Please forgive me if I'm wrong. :)