Bringing home a new baby for the first time can be a scary experience. Whether it’s your first, second or even fifth child, you are adding a new tiny little life into your home; a tiny person who is entirely dependent upon you to meet all of their wants and needs.
Now think about parents of a medically fragile child. Their child most likely spent a great deal of time in a NICU or PICU. They have been through a great ordeal physically, emotionally and mentally. Their child was critically ill for a long period of time and there were most likely moments when they thought they would never be at home as a family. After families are discharged to home there will be more hurdles to overcome. For some parents this stress is greater than that of baby being in the hospital. It is important for families and friends to be supportive. The family deserves to enjoy this happy but stressful time!
Below are some tips that will help support the family’s transition to home.
Do not smoke in the family’s home or car. Smoke odor on clothes can cause infant distress especially if the baby came home on oxygen support.
Do not be offended if parents ask you not to visit for a while. They are adjusting to a new life and a new routine outside the hospital. They need time alone with their little one.
If visiting, be mindful of how many people you bring and their current state of health. It is not a good idea to bring children when you first visit and if anyone in your family is feeling ill or has been around someone who has been ill, it is best to postpone your visit. Medically fragile children have weakened immune systems and your cold could mean another trip to the hospital for them.
Hand washing is crucial to infants remaining healthy. Wash your hands frequently and wear a mask if asked to by the parents. They are trying to keep their baby safe.
If baby goes home in the winter, it may be best to call instead of visit. Winter is a high viral illness time and medically fragile babies can have a very hard time getting over the flu, RSV or even just a simple cold
As with any new parent, offer to help them out around the house by cleaning, cooking meals or watching their other children. Parents of medically fragile children may have a unique set of needs, but they are still parents who simply want the best for their family and will gradually adjust to their new life at home!
Beth Martin RNC, MSN, graduated from Otterbein College with a bachelor's of science in nursing and completed her master's of science in nursing in 2010. She has worked at Nationwide Children’s in the NICU since 1996.
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