It is important to reach out to friends and family members you love and trust. This is a time when it may “take a village” to get through your NICU stay.
It can be nice to have family and friends be involved in your NICU journey, but also hard some days. There are times when you might want to be alone with your baby or at home resting. It is okay to set new limits around your time as you heal from the birth and balance time at the hospital.
Hopefully, your family will understand that you are adjusting to becoming a parent and this takes time and space. Change can be hard and it may take a while for the people in your life to adjust too.
Keep in mind that they mean well and just want to be there for you. Your support people may not know how to best support you and may need more direction. Giving them specific tasks or jobs may help them know how to best help you.
Some ideas for family and friends who want to support you:
- Childcare and transportation of siblings
- Transportation for parents to/from hospital
- Cook a meal and bring it to hospital or leave it at family’s home
- Household chores, such as cleaning, dishwashing, laundry, etc.
- Pet care, like walking the dog, feeding pets, etc.
- Bring in mail, taking out trash, etc.
- Set up nursery room at home
- Provide lawn care, gardening, etc.
- Offer to run errands for the family (i.e., grocery store, post office, etc.)
- Provide gift cards or cash for gas, snacks, meals, baby supplies, etc.
- Send a note or text/email message of encouragement
While you may feel like your friends and family do not understand, it is important not to isolate yourself from them. This will not be helpful long-term for your mood or coping process. You will need your family and friends again.
- Please remember that we want to keep your baby’s area as a healing space, so it is important to limit the number of visitors at any given time.
- Your baby's bedside needs to be calm and peaceful, so noise levels need to be kept low.
- If there are conflicts with your visitors that come up, please take them outside of the unit.
- Visitors need to wash their hands anytime they come in the room. They also need to follow any precautions (gown, gloves, etc.).
- If someone smells like cigarette smoke, staff may ask they shower and change their shirt before to holding your baby.