Hear From the Experts
Premature birth isn't something that you'd typically plan for but it helps to know that, should you experience it, there are experts trained to help both you and your baby.
Q: Why are so many pieces of medical equipment necessary? What does it do?
A: You'll see various pieces of equipment in the NICU, each designed to help with your baby's care, such as breathing, feeding, medicines and temperature. There are also monitors that keep track of your baby's vital signs, such as its heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. You may hear many alarms from these monitors, but don't worry: the nurses and doctors in the NICU are trained to know when and how to respond. Even small changes, such as the baby's movement, can often make the alarms sound. To find out more details on ways the equipment can support your baby, please visit our Preemie Care Explorer page and ask your baby's nurse.
Q: Can I touch or hold my baby?
A: This depends on your baby's unique needs. Most babies benefit from being held and from their parents' touch. At first though, some babies may not be able to be moved too much because they are sensitive to handling light and sound which may cause sensory overload. As soon as your baby is ready, the baby's nurse or doctor will show you the best way to touch and hold your baby. Nurses and doctors can also show you how to know when your baby is ready to be handled.
Q: I have twins, why are they in separate incubators, and can they be put in the same one?
A: There are various health reasons why separate incubators are used. For example, infection, temperature instability between two babies sharing an incubator, prevention of sleep disturbances, and differing levels of medication that may be required are all reasons for separate units being used.
Q: Are there any local support groups I can join? Where can I find support groups?
A: In recent years, many local support groups have been set up for parents of premature babies. Nurses and staff within your local NICU will be able to provide information to help you find local support groups, where you can talk to parents who have been through similar experiences. National and international charities have been set up to care for the needs of premature babies and their families, and many of these have information and support lines. There is also a growing online community of parents and family members who blog about their experiences from across the world, so even someone who lives far away but has had a similar experience to you may be able to provide support.
Preemie Care Explorer
A neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can appear a daunting place at first, but don't worry - everything you see is designed to provide the best possible care for each individual baby. NICU equipment creates the optimum environment for babies to rest and heal, while offering parents the chance to remain close to their new arrival. Here's our guide to NICU incubators.
Equipment in modern neonatal intensive care units has been designed to help comfort each and every baby that passes through its doors. NICUs are constantly evolving, in a bid to provide the best environment to help premature babies heal and develop outside the womb. Treatment for jaundice, for example, used to consist of exposure to high levels of light beamed into an incubator. Nowadays, modern equipment such as the Bilirubin blanket allows you to wrap, feed, and hold your baby while they receive phototherapy treatment.
Monitoring and Support
From the moment a premature baby arrives in the NICU, they are monitored for their growth and development. NIRs monitors offer a non-invasive means of measuring the amount of oxygen in tissues and vital organs, while multi-parameter monitors observe the baby's heart rate, blood pressure and respiration.
Neonatal nurseries strive to provide a developmentally friendly environment for your growing preemie. Adjusting the light and noise in the NICU promotes a nurturing environment to support growth. Medical equipment such as incubators have features like built in scales (so your baby doesn't need to be disturbed when being weighed), rotating mattresses (to minimize unnecessary movement), and pressure diffusing mattresses (to nurture and aid the baby's development).
Strength and Transporting
Neonatal intensive care units contain equipment to help strengthen premature babies. Equipment such as IV pumps, breast pumps, exam lights and phototherapy lights have all been developed with premature baby care in mind. Advances in these vital pieces of equipment help make the NICU as quiet as possible, minimizing external stress factors for parent and baby.
Often neonatal babies require more specialized tests or procedures in different hospital departments. Hospital departments will try to minimize disruption caused during transportation, and may use specially designed mobile incubators with batteries to continue all necessary care during transport. Units that serve as incubators, travel beds, and radiant warmers all help keep the baby as stable as possible during these checks, while minimizing distress.
Additional information on the various equipment you may find in your hospital can be found here.
The Giraffe Story Mobile aims to provide information and relevant stories for parents who have recently given birth to a premature baby as well as those who are seeking more information on premature baby care. This resource is intended to raise overall awareness about the NICU and premature baby care equipment. GE Healthcare invites you to get involved:
If you'd like to submit your story for the Giraffe Story Mobile, click here.
If you'd like to find out more about the Giraffe incubator and other GE Healthcare products, click here.