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Did You Have a NICU Baby?

Posted by on May. 5, 2015 at 9:20 AM
  • 15 Replies
1 mom liked this

10 Fascinating Facts About the NICU


Every year, roughly 10 to 15 percent of babies end up premature or sick and head into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU. And while it's hard to cuddle your baby in an incubator, parents should thank their lucky stars that these cutting-edge facilities exist, and have evolved light years since they first opened their doors.

Check out these surprising facts about NICU and you'll come away confident that those babies are in good hands -- and hear some ways that you can make a difference during your baby's NICU stay, too!

  1. The first "NICU" appeared at amusement parks. In 1901, Dr. Martin Couney introduced the first incubator at the World Fair in Omaha, Nebraska. From there, "incubator baby side shows" -- entire rows of incubators staffed by physicians and nurses -- toured various world fairs until 1943, and it became the longest running show at Coney Island. Fortunately, premie babies are no longer treated this way.
  2. You couldn't always see through incubators. Before the 1940s, incubators weren't clear ... which made seeing and treating the babies inside a challenge. Once transparent plastic walls were introduced, "Nurses and doctors stared at the naked babies as if they were seeing them for the first time," according to historical documents, and results improved immensely.
  3. NICUs had a powerful advocate: JFK. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy's newborn son, born premature at 37 weeks, died due to immature lungs. This tragedy sparked awareness about premature infants and led to NICU units being established across the country.
  4. NICU survival rates have come a long way. Nearly one in 10 babies are born premature -- and 30 years ago, less than 25 percent of preemies survived. Now, almost 90 percent of preemies survive, including infants born as early as 24 weeks.
  5. NICUs can save really small babies. The smallest baby to ever survive and be discharged from NICU is Rumaisa Rahman, a twin who was born in 2004 at 26 weeks weighing just 9.2 ounces. Both she and her twin sister Madeline suffer no chronic health problems -- giving hope to parents of preemies everywhere.

  6. NICU ain't cheap. A stay at the Ritz or Four Seasons has nothing on NICU, where the cost to care for one infant often exceeds $3,500 per day. Prolonged stays can easily top $1 million.
  7. Some NICUs are noisy. Between the beeping monitors, ringing phones, and never-ending stream of family members cooing over incubators, NICUs can be noisy places. In fact, one study found that the average sound levels in NICUs range from 54 to 61 decibels -- that's above the 50 decibel levels recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. All in all, it's amazing those babies get any sleep!
  8. Most preemies stay in the NICU until their due date. So that means if your baby was born six weeks early, he will likely stay in NICU for six weeks to help them "catch up" developmentally to full-term infants.
  9. NICU won't stop you from bonding. Sure, bonding with baby would be easier if you were hanging out at home, but the time you spend in NICU does make a difference. In one study, the more parents talked with their infants in NICU, the better their language skills at 7 and 18 months down the road.
  10. Moms can help out at NICU, too. Think only doctors and nurses can nurture the health of a fragile NICU baby? On the contrary, a handful of hospitals are allowing parents to care for their own infants for more than eight hours a day. And the results of one pilot study of 42 newborns show promise: Preemies cared for by parents in NICU gained 25 percent more weight than babies cared for by nurses; and infection rates dropped to zero compared to nurses' 11 percent. Here's to hoping more hospitals will allow parents to pitch in!

Do you have a NICU baby?

What was your experience like?

Image via spfotocz/shutterstock

by on May. 5, 2015 at 9:20 AM
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by Amanda on May. 5, 2015 at 9:52 AM
We have not had a nicu baby but this was interesting.
by Gold Member on May. 5, 2015 at 9:54 AM

I had three 27 week micro preemies, ranging from 1 lb 14 oz to 2 lb 7 oz.  They were in the NICU 75, 85, and 101 days.  Lots of ups, downs, and unsure moments with their health, but thankfully we got to bring all three home!

Circus side show?  Oh my.  That is horrible treatment.  I wonder what ever came of those babies.

by New Member on May. 5, 2015 at 10:06 AM
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My DD is 7 months old born at 33 weeks weighing 4 pounds 1 ounce. Yes we had a 2 month NICU stay and then we were transfered to Gainesville, Florida where she had open heart surgery and was in the Congentital heart ICU for almost 2 more months.

We were so greatful our daughter is alive. We took our NICU/ICU stay as a blessing because our daughter was given a 1% chance of living. She is under going her 2nd heart surgery today. I believe that my daughter is in the best hands. I feel very safe leaving my daughter there.

by Michele on May. 5, 2015 at 10:24 AM
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My oldest was born at 33 weeks, weighing 3 lbs 14 oz. She only stayed in the NICU 11 days though and came home weighing 3 lbs 11 oz! I had been fortunate enough to get in a couple rounds of steroids to mature her lungs before she decided not to wait any longer for her debut. I think that's what made her healthy enough not to have any respiratory issues. She just stayed in the NICU long enough to establish feeding, weight loss and regain and go under the bilirubin lights for jaundice. She has been very healthy ever since. She is not my child with special needs. :)
by Darby on May. 5, 2015 at 12:29 PM

 Yes.  B was in the NICU for a month.

by Bronze Member on May. 5, 2015 at 2:54 PM

Yes, 2 of our 3 children were in the NICU.  Our middle child was born at 32 weeks, she weighed 4lbs 9ozs.  She only had a 14 day hospital stay.  Our youngest was born with SB, (she had to have surgeries right after her birth) so she was in the NICU for 11 days.  She went home for 4 days then she returned to NICU and PICU for 3 and a half more weeks (and 3 more surgeries).

by Ruby Member on May. 5, 2015 at 2:56 PM

 yes i did and a miracle baby he is - now 15

by Member on May. 5, 2015 at 3:07 PM

I had 2 Nicu babies.  My first pregnancy ended at 32 weeks and my little girl didnt grow at correct rate during gestation so she was delayed in growth to about a 28 weeker and weighed 3lbs 2 oz.  She was never in the cricitical or intensive part of nicu  she was in the step down NICU  ( hospital we were at had 3 seperate NICU units)  she was there for about 3 1/2 weeks before coming home.

Two years later I had my 2nd little girl who was born at 27 weeks and also had delayed growth so was developed to about 24 weeks.  She was in critical care nicu for over a month before moving to the intensive care nicu where she was there for 2 1/2 months, finally she spent a little over a month in the step down NICU and finally came home a few days shy of 5 months old.  She was 2lbs at birth.  

  Over all the experience both times was difficult to leave your baby behind and have a 2 hour drive to come back and see her.  I called at least twice a day to check on them, but it was no where near being as good as being there.  Because we were at the University hospital, we were not allowed to stay at Ronald McDonald house.  Only people whos children were at Childrens Hosptial could stay, even though the doctors for NICU were from Childrens and also saw babies that were at the University hospital.  Now days the University has their own version of Ronald McDonald house so hopefully no other parents will have to go through that seperation.  Also now they have cameras set up where Parents can watch their little ones in NICU via the web.

  I guess the worst experience I had over all was the day we went to visit my youngest, while she was still in the critical care nicu, and as we had just gotten in the door and on the way to our baby we had to turn around and leave.  They were clearing the NICU of other parents because a set of twins were not doing well and they passed about 10 minutes after we had to leave.  Seeing those poor parents break down, and then leave with 2 shoe boxes was the most heart breaking thing ever.  Add to it the fact that our own baby was in critical care and that could be us at any time, it was a very emotional day.

My oldest is now 13 and you couldnt tell she was ever premature.  My youngest is 11 almost 12 and she has issues with behavior, impulse controll, mood swings, high blood pressure, and anxiety.  She has had a few stays in residential treatment to help with her problems.  

by New Member on May. 5, 2015 at 3:24 PM

We had a very good experience. The nurses were wonderful. DD#1 was a very quiet and non-demanding baby so the nurses that got her for their shift felt like they won the lottery. We were lucky that they had a mostly 2:1 ratio for baby to nurse ratio. Usually the nurse that had DD#1 also had one of the sickest babies in the unit, so it was kind of like a break for them to have DD#1 as well.

We loved that we could spend as much time with her as was possible. Sometimes we would go to visit to only be turned away that time, due to a new incoming baby who was very ill. It was rare though. We were encouraged to Kangaroo Cuddle our daughter when we were there, give her a bath and feed and change her as much as we could while visiting. They even let us bring our son (he was 3 1/2 y/o at the time) to visit. We did have a few hiccups but still managed to take her home a week before her due date with no monitors or tube feedings.

EDIT: Just thought I'd add. DD#1 was a 32 weeker born by emergency c-section due to placenta previa. She weighed in at 3 lbs 2.8 oz. and was 17 3/4 inches long. She was on a vent for about a week. Three days after birth she had a grade 3-4 bleed on her brain. Since she showed no signs of distress (no dip in breathing, no dip in BP or heart rate) it wasn't noticed until her third day, when they did an ultrasound on her head (standard procedure to make sure that the brain is developed). She was on the critical care side of the NICU until she came off the vent and could maintain her temperature in a closed incubator. After that she was moved to the other side of the unit, into an open crib until she gained weight, fed without tiring for 15 minutes and could maintain her body temp with minimum covering. In total she was in the unit for 7 weeks.

by on May. 6, 2015 at 8:09 AM

Yes, my 7th child, but not at birth. She was about 41/2 months old when she ended up in the NICU from varies illnesses besides having a heart murmur. That was scary enough though. Also my oldest granddaughter was sent to Utah from Idaho to the Primary childrens Hospital for 4 months and my 10 year old was in the NICU for a week.

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