holding your baby in the NICU

Are you part of the NICU club? Do you have a child who is still struggling with the effects of being born too soon from preeclampsia? Share your concerns and stories here among parents who have been there.
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audrey s.
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Re: holding your baby in the NICU

Postby 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.
Mom to Rebecca, now 16 and honor student. 37-week, two months in NICU for her thanks to NEC and meningitis. One month in hospital for me, HELLP syndrome and severe hyper-reflexia. All healthy now, more or less!

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Re: holding your baby in the NICU

Postby 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.
Our first son was born and passed in Feb of 2010. Born at 29 weeks due to HELLP and passed due to NEC. We miss him every day. :~(

Our second son was born at 39 weeks gestation in Nov of 2011. No HELLP or pre-e! Took LDA starting at week 12 and went off of it at week 38!


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Re: holding your baby in the NICU

Postby 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.
Momma to 2 beautiful little girls:
DD#1 born at 35.0 due to pre-e/HELLP in March '09
DD#2 born at 33.2 due to pre-e November '10

I also have a weird HR issue where my resting HR (even sleeping) is 120+ while PG only. Would love to find other people who have had a similar experience or have a guess as to what is going on as my drs are stumped.

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Re: holding your baby in the NICU

Postby 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 :)

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