“Leaving your babies at the hospital is heartbreaking, even when you know they're getting the best care.” That’s how mother-of-preemie-twins, Jill O. describes what it’s like to have your baby in the NICU.
Having a preemie can come with just as many momplications as complications. So, how can you survive the NICU? Here are some hard-earned tips from Circle of Moms NICU veterans.
1. Get to know the NICU staff.
There are going to be ups and downs while your baby is in the NICU. Since you’re not going to be able to be there all the time, you have to trust and know the people taking care of your baby. Mom Megan L. says the nurses are a great resource. “NICU nurses really helped me out alot,” she says. “They are really supportive and will listen to your concerns and help you understand everything.”
2. Keep a written record of the stay.
What this means varies from mom to mom. Circle of Moms member Jodi kept a journal. She wrote down what the doctors had to say, her feelings about her babies’ stay and “wrote them a few letters to stick in their baby books.” Other parents write blogs to keep family and friends updated on the baby and how the family is doing. It can help reduce the stress of having to answer the question “How’s the baby doing?” many times a day.
3. Get connected with other NICU moms.
You may see the same faces day in and day out, but while you’re visiting in the NICU isn’t the best time try to connect. Mom Alama advises to check with the hospital to see if they have a NICU support group. Other moms recommend looking for support online in a community like the Circle of Moms "Moms of Preemies" Community.
Both options provide you with a way to connect with parents who are going through experiences similar to your own, but also can connect you with parents who are farther along in the process and are able to provide some support for life after the NICU.
4. Accept help when it’s offered and ask for it when it’s not.
Unfortunately, having a baby in the NICU doesn’t mean the rest of your life comes to a standstill. Take whatever help you can get and take it guilt-free. Mom Mollie D. suggests other moms of preemies actively seek out some assistance.
“My advice is to get a little help, if you can, from a very supportive family member or close friend,” she says. “ If they can take care of some things around the house for you or spend time with you at the hospital, or do whatever you feel like you need, it will help you to relax as much as possible and take care of yourself.”
5. Try to understand that usually people do mean well.
At some point, somebody is going to say the wrong thing, whether it’s telling you how lucky you were not to have to get “huge” or asking why you’re on maternity leave if your baby isn’t at home.
As mom to a preemie, Sabrina N. puts it, “some people don’t think before they say things.” Usually whatever it is has been said out of ignorance, not malice. Knowing that may not make you less angry, but it might stop you from saying something you regret.
6. Believe it when people say they’re praying for you.
Even if you don’t believe in the power of prayer, the people praying for you do. On a particularly touching post on the Circle of Moms community, Lydia M. reached out for support when her daughter was born at 24 weeks.
A number of other moms of preemies responded, saying she would be in their prayers, prompting member Nancy-Suzie B. to say “The army of the preemie mom is behind you, helping you and praying for you.”
7. Take care of yourself.
Though it should go without saying, it won’t. Most of all, it’s important to make sure you’re okay, too. Follow mom-to-preemie Christine R.’s sage advice: “Take it easy, take care of yourself, and just do the best that you can. Know that you're not alone and you will get through this time.”
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.