1. Who will provide me with information about my baby?
We encourage you to stay in touch with the neonatologists caring for your baby. After your baby has been admitted to the NICU, your personal doctor and the neonatologists will meet with you to talk about your baby's condition. NICU nurses are a great resource for general information about your baby's care and day-to-day activities. Also, a NICU social worker will meet with you within 48 hours after your baby's admission. The social worker will be available to you and your family when you have questions, need information on support and resources or when you want to arrange patient care conferences with our staff.
2. What is a patient care conference?
A patient care conference is a meeting between you, your family and a neonatologist to discuss your baby's condition.
3. Why is my baby on oxygen?
Oxygen is one of the most important "medicines" for babies in our NICU, especially those with lung and breathing issues. A special monitor continuously checks the level of oxygen in your baby's blood so that adjustments can be made if needed.
4. What are vital signs? How do you measure heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure?
These measurements monitor heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure, normal values vary with your baby's gestational age and condition.
5. What causes my baby's skin to turn yellow?
A majority of newborns develop a yellowish tone called jaundice. It happens when a higher amount of yellow pigment (bilirubin) collects in the fat cells of skin. A little jaundice is typically not a problem, but we keep a close eye on it to ensure that it stays at a healthy level.
6. Why are there lights over my baby?
Special lights are used to help lower the level of bilirubin that is causing jaundice. The treatment, called phototherapy, is completely painless and will not make your baby hot. We use eye shields to shade and protect your baby's eyes from the bright lights.
7. When can I hold my baby?
As soon as the neotalologist says that it's okay, our occupational and physical therapists will work with you on ways to safely hold your baby. They will also offer suggestions on other ways you can bond with your baby.
8. When can I breastfeed or bottle feed my baby?
One of our lactation consultants will meet with you as soon as possible after your baby is admitted to the NICU. A lactation consultant specializes in assisting mothers and babies with breastfeeding, using a breast pump and connecting with community lactation services after the baby is discharged from the NICU. As soon as the neonatologist says it's okay, the lactation consultant or your NICU nurse will help you and your baby start breastfeeding. Your breast milk is very important to your baby. We have a refrigerator to store your breast milk. Please bring in your breast milk every time you visit the NICU.
9. Where can I find a breast pump?
Breast pumps are readily available during your hospital stay and in the NICU. Several agencies in Monterey County can help you rent or purchase a hospital grade electric breast pump. This binder includes a list of community resources in Monterey county. The lactation consultant or NICU staff can assist you with any questions or services you may need.
10. Is breastfeeding support available after my baby leaves the hospital?
Yes, please refer to the resources list for our community providers.
11. When will my baby be allowed to room in with me on the general care nursing floor?
As your baby gets closer to being able to go home we would like you to be available to "room-in" at the hospital with your baby at least 24 hours before discharge. It is important that you are comfortable with your infant's care and that your questions are answered before your baby leaves the NICU.
12. When can my baby leave the hospital?
Typically, our neonatologists will talk to you when your baby is admitted to the NICU and will provide you with a care plan. Once your baby has met specific goals that are set by the neonatologists, your baby will most likely be discharged. Every Tuesday, during what we call "discharge rounds," we discuss the estimated time that your child will need to be in the NICU. Please talk to your NICU nurse for more details.
13. What is the NICU social worker's role?
The NICU social worker is here to help you and your family deal with the stress and emotional issues that are natural reactions to your baby being in an intensive care nursery. This professional works with you to explore family support systems, communication between your family and the NICU staff, making sure you understand the information being provided, developing coping skills and other issues that may impact your family. Our social worker can also intervene when you need supportive counseling, to schedule a patient care conference or connection to community-based resources for special issues such as substance abuse, poverty, homelessness and domestic violence.
14. Are siblings and other family members allowed to visit my baby in the NICU?
Yes. We encourage siblings and other family members to visit your baby in our NICU. There may be times when visitors are asked to leave the NICU, for example, when the staff is changing shifts or NICU specialists are examining your baby. NICU visiting hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Please review our policy for NICU visitors in this binder.
15. Where can I stay if I'm discharged from the hospital before my baby?
We will make every effort to secure a room on the labor and delivery floor so that you can stay here with your baby. Please notify your nurse as soon as you know your discharge date so he or she can check to see if there's a room where you and your baby can stay together ("room in"). If no rooms are available on the floor, we will do our best to find an alternative that is the right environment for your baby. There's a list of nearby hotels and restaurants as well as transportation in the Resource section of this binder.
16. I don't have a pediatrician. How can I find one?
This binder includes a list of pediatricians in our area who accept both private insurance and government-sponsored health coverage such as Medi-Cal. Please contact your insurance company directly for help with locating a pediatrician as follow-up appointments will be necessary after your baby leaves the hospital. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact the NICU case manager and/or refer to our resources section on local providers.
17. Does the hospital have a chaplain?
Yes. We are happy to contact our local spiritual care providers in the community. Please let our staff know if you would like assistance in this area.