NICU: What to Expect

Child in the NICUThe Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is a 125-bed unit consisting of intensive care beds, transitional care beds, and family participation rooms where parents can stay with their baby before they head home.  Each year, we care for more than 900 babies requiring special help after birth. 

Our newborns come from all over the region, with conditions ranging from severe prematurity to full-term infants requiring additional care.  

Upon arrival to the NICU, you will receive a parent binder with detailed information about the NICU and your baby’s stay, medical information and developmental milestones. 

Advanced care

During your stay in the NICU, your baby will receive care from many specialists using state-of-the-art treatment and monitoring equipment.  This may include:

  • Specially-trained physicians (neonatologists) and nurses who specialize in treating sick newborns
  • Pediatric specialists who provide consultation and services for newborn conditions (ex. pediatric cardiologists or pediatric surgeons)
  • Surfactant therapy (a medicine that helps prematurely born babies to breath more easily)
  • Conventional ventilation (helps infants breath)
  • High frequency oscillatory ventilation (a type of rapid breathing machine that is necessary for some infants to help their lungs develop and heal)
  • Portable radiologic and diagnostic equipment
  • On-site pharmacist and dietitian

NICU patient room

Patient rooms are equipped with everything your baby may need during their stay, and are designed especially for newborn care. 

We encourage parents to visit your baby whenever you can – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Parents may bring siblings ages 2 years or older to visit new brothers or sisters after your baby's nurse is sure that the sibling does not have a contagious disease. Parents are asked to provide a list of other relatives or friends who have permission to visit their baby. Because of space limitations, the NICU requests that each baby have only two visitors in the NICU at any time. Parent waiting rooms are available just outside the NICU for visitors to wait.

Once your baby is preparing to go home, family participation rooms in the NICU offer a place where parents may stay overnight with their child.  This helps parents gain confidence in feeding, giving medicines, handling special equipment and prepare to go home with their baby.

Family accommodations 

You may find that you need a place to relax, eat, shower or do laundry during your baby’s stay in the NICU.  To make your stay as pleasant as possible, visit:

  • Parent lounges in the NICU – providing beds, lockers, shower and bathroom facilities. 
  • Ronald McDonald Family Room (5th Floor) – includes laundry facilities, bathrooms with showers, a living room with TV and games, computer access and a kitchen.

Family-centered care

Family-centered care is an approach to health care where patients, families and healthcare professionals form a partnership that benefits everyone involved. A “family” is recognized as anyone whom patients regard as significant in their lives. 

Our newborn medicine team believes:

  • Families are essential participants of the care team and affect the total healing of the newborn.
  • Health-care providers should communicate and share all relevant information with patients and families in ways that are affirming and useful.
  • The strengths of mom, baby and family should be the focus – not their limitations.
  • Families should be connected with others dealing with similar health issues for emotional, spiritual and practical support.

Our approach

We encourage parents to ask questions, make requests, become involved in discharge planning, and learn all they can about the care and treatment of their baby.

We invite you to attend daily rounds (8 – 10 a.m.) where the medical team will discuss plan of care for your baby.  Rounds include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, social workers, respiratory therapists and others.  We realize that you, as parents, know your baby best. We value your input during rounds or at any time during the day.

Families meetings are a time when you can review your baby’s plan of care.  If you think a meeting would help your family, ask your baby’s doctor or nurse to arrange one.

Family support

Having a newborn in the NICU can be a stressful and challenging time.  The NICU Family Support Program, in collaboration with the March of Dimes, offers NICU families support and resources to help with your stay and transition home. 

  • Education and resources
  • Weekly educational parent lunch hours
  • Sibling activities
  • Bedside family photography
  • Teen parent education classes
  • Holiday activities
  • NICU family dinner nights
  • Bedside support