7 Insights To Help A NICU Parent Stay Strong (#3 is Essential)

Being a NICU parent, when your baby is in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), it can be incredibly tough with so much uncertainty and worry. Dave and I always said one day in the NICU is long enough! The stress of not knowing what will happen can take an emotional toll and make you feel like you’re barely holding it together. You are not alone! Supporting your little one through this challenging period is hard work, but it can also give rise to a strength within yourself that you never knew was possible.

Nobody expects parenting in the NICU to be perfect — just strong enough to get through this overwhelming experience and come out on the other side ready to love your child unconditionally. I’m empowering NICU parents to stay strong during these tough times. I’ve compiled a list of 7 essential insights that helped me and my husband stay positive and keep our minds right while in the NICU for almost five months.

1. Advocate for your baby.

It is essential to speak up for your baby. You know your baby better than anyone else. If you see something that bothers you, say something.

For example, our twin girls had bad emesis episodes (vomiting or big spit-ups) if they were not held up after bottle feeding. We had to advocate for them to ensure they were being held up after feeds.

nicu-parent-advocate-for-your-baby

2. Determine who your core group of supporters are.


Who are the people that support you? These people could be family, friends, or even people you know. These are the people that you can trust and who will help you no matter what. My sister was this person for me. Her son (my amazing nephew, Lenny) was born early, at 28 weeks. He was in the NICU for seven months. The highs and lows I witnessed my sister and brother-in-law experience with Lenny rocked me. She was a HUGE support for Dave and me during our NICU journey.

Then, my husband Dave decided to join several Facebook support groups. He wanted to be a part of these groups to see success stories and ask questions about what we were going through. That helped him feel better during our time in the NICU. No matter your situation, you must have people you can rely on for support.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!


Don’t be afraid to ask questions when your baby is in the NICU! Even if you don’t understand the answer, ask again until you do.

Dave and I asked MANY questions when our girls were in the NICU. He was better about it than me about gaining clarification when we didn’t understand things.

Let’s be honest; doctors and nurses do their jobs daily, speaking in medical jargon with one another. It is sometimes hard to understand what they say when explaining how they care for your baby. I’m here to tell you it’s OK not to understand everything. It’s even more OK to keep asking questions!

4. Join a NICU parent support group on Facebook.

Being a NICU parent can be an emotionally and physically draining experience. It is often difficult to cope and feel like you are not alone. Joining a Facebook support group specifically for NICU parents can provide a sense of solidarity and community as you navigate your stressful journey.

At least, that’s what it did for us. Especially for my husband, it helped him find advice on our daily struggles with our girls being in the NICU.

Here are a few of the most active NICU parent support groups on Facebook:

Support groups can be a great way to ask and answer questions, respond to concerns, exchange advice, or know that there are other parents in the same position you are. It will also allow you to express your feelings and find support.

join-a-nicu-parent-facebook-support-group

5. Listen to an uplifting audiobook.


NICU life is a trying experience, so it’s important to put positive things into your mind during that time. Audiobooks are a great tool you can readily listen to while driving or getting ready in the morning.

There are thousands of books to choose from, so finding something that resonates with you won’t be difficult. If you need some ideas, consider looking into these fantastic reads:

Each audiobook offers helpful advice and guidance on maintaining a positive and healthy mindset during your emotional journey.

6. Listen to a feel-good podcast.

If you need a great way to destress and ease anxiety, a podcast can help BIG TIME.

One in particular that offers a welcome dose of optimism and encouragement is the Feel Good Effect by Robyn Conley Downs. This podcast goes beyond stories into actionable advice on overcoming challenges and creating lasting life changes. The host explores well-being, growth, and transformation in each episode through expert interviews. The upbeat conversations motivate and provide advice on personal care practices to help nurture your physical and mental strength.

Another great podcast worth checking out is Empowering NICU Parents. It is gaining popularity because it provides parents and caregivers with encouraging conversations about their journey as NICU parents. Mainly, when it comes to specific things to expect in the NICU, common “lingo” used, and tangible tips to guide, educate, empower, and support you through your baby’s NICU journey and once they are home.

No matter what, feel-good podcasts offer an optimistic perspective that will lift your spirits and remind you that you are not alone.

7. Protect Your Mindset


I can’t stress this enough: a NICU parents mental health must always be nurtured. Protecting your mindset is so crucial! As a preemie parent, you are automatically thrown into a stressful environment with long days and nights filled with emotional ups and downs.

When your mind is in the gutters of negativity, it affects your mood, attitude, and health, which pours into your daily activities and interactions with others.

Conversely, when you are uplifted and feel inspired, you carry that high-vibe energy throughout your day that positively impacts those around you, especially your little warrior.

It’s important to remember that your mental health and well-being have a direct impact on not only you but your baby as well. When maternal interaction with her infant is disrupted through depression, anxiety, or stress, infants are at greater risk for cognitive and behavioral problems. So it is vital to protect your mindset during this journey by moderating negativity, making time for self-care, and allowing yourself to experience all the joys and hardships.

Video: From one NICU parent to another, you got this! You are meant to receive this message today.


FAQ


1. What does NICU mom mean?

“NICU mom” refers to a mother with a baby admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The NICU is a specialized medical unit within a hospital that provides critical care to premature infants or babies born with medical conditions requiring intensive medical attention.

Being a NICU mom means navigating a challenging and emotional journey as your baby receives specialized medical care and support to overcome health challenges.

NICU moms often face a rollercoaster of emotions, from joy and hope to fear and uncertainty, as they watch over their little one’s progress in the NICU. These mothers play a crucial role in their baby’s care, offering love, comfort, and support during their stay in the NICU.

2. What is it like to be a NICU parent?

Like a NICU mom, being a NICU parent is emotionally challenging and rewarding. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, from joy and hope to fear and uncertainty. You’ll experience mixed emotions as you watch your baby’s progress in the NICU.

The NICU journey involves daily visits, medical updates, and involvement in your baby’s care. You’ll form strong bonds with the NICU staff, which is essential to your support network.

While it can be tough, being a NICU parent teaches you incredible resilience and strength. You’ll witness your baby’s fighting spirit firsthand, and every milestone achieved will fill your heart with pride and joy.

3. How do I cope with being a NICU mom?

Being a NICU mom can sometimes feel overwhelming, but remember; you are stronger than you know. Take one step at a time and give yourself grace. It’s okay to have ups and downs; it’s all part of the journey.

Surround yourself with a support network of family and friends who can lend a listening ear or a helping hand.

Take breaks when you need them, and don’t hesitate to ask for support from the NICU staff. Embrace self-care, even in small moments, to recharge and stay resilient. Celebrate every milestone, no matter how small, and find solace in connecting with other NICU moms who understand your journey.

You’re doing an incredible job; your love and dedication make a difference in your baby’s life. Keep holding on to hope and trust that you and your little fighter are in capable hands. You’ve got this!

4. Where do parents stay when a baby is in the NICU?

Most hospitals with NICUs understand the importance of keeping parents close to their babies during this critical time.

Many hospitals offer accommodations for parents, either within the hospital itself or nearby, like the Ronald McDonald House. Hospitals may also partner with nearby hotels to offer discounted rates for NICU parents.

It’s essential to communicate with the hospital’s NICU staff to learn about the available accommodation options and any additional support services offered during your baby’s stay.

5. Why can’t I hold my baby in the NICU?

It’s understandable to feel eager to hold your precious baby in your arms, but in the NICU, the primary focus is providing your little one the best possible medical care.

Depending on your baby’s condition and gestational age, the medical team may need to prioritize specialized care and monitoring.

Some babies may require delicate medical equipment and interventions, making it challenging to be held immediately.

Rest assured that the NICU staff works tirelessly to ensure your baby’s health and well-being. As your baby strengthens and their condition improves, the medical team will guide you through holding and bonding with your little miracle.

In the meantime, know that your presence and love are already making a tremendous difference in your baby’s journey to strength and health.

SHOP: NICU Parent Resources


These top recommended NICU parent resources and tools have been carefully selected to support you through your NICU journey. Whether you seek knowledge, inspiration, or a means to process your emotions, these resources are invaluable companions to support you on your path to strength and resilience!

To Wrap It Up


No doubt, parenting a baby in the NICU can be one of the hardest things you’ll go through but know it will give you strength and make you resilient. Despite all the stress, uncertainty, and worry you may feel, don’t forget you are not alone!

Now that you know the seven essential tips to help you stay strong as a NICU parent, I am confident you will carry them into your journey.

No matter what challenges lay ahead on your NICU journey, be brave and stay positive because YOU got this!

Just know I’m in your corner, sending you all the love and support for you and your resilient little warrior!

With Gratitude,

Linds

What other tips helped you as a NICU parent? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below because we could all use a little help from one NICU parent to another.🙂

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7 Insights To Help A NICU Parent Stay Strong

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About The Author


Linds is the proud mom of two little miracles, Mono Mono twin girls, and one AMAZING older brother! She is the founder and content creator of Mono Mono Twins, Intensive Therapy for Kids, and Co-Founder of The LENN Foundation, a 510c3 that helps children with cerebral palsy receive grants for intensive therapies to thrive.

lindsey

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The contents of the Mono Mono Twins Site, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on the Mono Mono Twins Site (“Content”), are for informational purposes only. The Content is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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