Heading home from a neonatal unit for the first time can be a stressful time. To help, here’s some tips from the mother of a premature baby who spent 100+ days in hospital before going home.
Every journey is different, but we hope you find something of use if you are currenty in a NICU or SCBU and planing to take your precious baby/babies home soon.
- If you’re bringing your baby home in winter, make sure you get someone to turn on the heaters and make the place warm and cozy before you get there
- Your house is generally very clean – so don’t feel you need to clean it from top to bottom before you bring your baby home
- You will do a good job looking after your baby and you know what you are doing (you’ve had all that time in the unit to learn exactly how to look after your baby). Don’t doubt yourself and if you are feeling concerned don’t hesitate to seek support from your doctor or home care nurse or other support provider (especially if it is your first baby)
- If people offer to help, say yes! Ask them to make you a meal or if you have other children take them for a while to give you a break. People want to help and feel better when they can.
- If your baby is coming home on oxygen see if you can get two bottles – one for next to the cot and another for the place you will spend the most time when baby is up. This means you don’t have to spend time moving bottles around the house
- When you first get home with a neonatal baby, visitors can be a source of stress and worry – so be on the front foot.
- Let them know that if your baby gets sick this can be very serious.
- Ask them to let you know when they plan to visit and to stay away if they are not well
- Let them know that everyone who comes to visit needs to wash their hands when they arrive (best way to stop the spread of germs)
- Let everyone know in one big group e-mail or facebook post if you want to avoid the awkward conversations when people arrive
- When you’re in the hospital it’s all about getting home, but once the day arrives it can be scary. You probably won’t sleep the first night you are home – you may feel anxious about being on your own and away from the constant support of the unit. If you have an apnea monitor it can help (make sure you test that it is working properly before you bring your baby home)
- It may take a few weeks or even months to feel ok depending on your situation – and that’s ok and normal, you’ve been through a lot. Focus on getting confident looking after your baby at home, trust that you can do it, don’t worry about anything else (including the housework), and importantly try and enjoy them
- Be kind and good to yourself. A happy household is best for your precious baby. Think ‘REF’.
- R = Rest. Get plenty of rest.
- E = Exercise. Get out walking.
- F = Food. Eat good food.
Are you thinking of tips you want to share so we can add to the above list?
We have put a post on our Facebook page – please add your tips in the post comments, so others can read them there (We will also look to update this article),