The Neonatal Unit
Neonatal units (NNU) in hospitals specialise in the care of babies. Babies that require additional medical support are those who are born too soon; who have a low birth weight; who have medical conditions that require additional care; and those recovering after surgery. In Ireland, approximately 1 in 10 babies will visit the neonatal unit (NNU) for at least a few days. The length of stay in the unit will depend on your baby's size, prematurity, and medical circumstances.
In the NNU of Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH), the medical team has cared for hundreds of babies, both term and preterm. The medical team is there to care for your baby, but are also there to help you look after your baby and yourself. The doctors and nurses understand that this is an extremely emotional and difficult time for you: they will listen to your concerns and questions; and are happy to help. The medical team will be there alongside you, guiding you through every step, during your journey through the NNU.
The medical team is here to care for your baby and to help you look after your baby and yourself.
Support in the NNU
It can be frightening for you to see your baby being cared for in such a ‘high-tech’ environment. The team will talk you through the policies and procedures in the NNU as well as the plan of care for your baby. The doctors and nurses will be there for you to help you through the highs and lows and any hurdles during your journey through the NNU. They will be there to support you through the range of emotions you may experience.
Entering the NNU and seeing your baby’s appearance for the first time, especially if they are small and fragile, can be upsetting and frightening. You’ll see a lot of different equipment and hear a lot of unfamiliar noises. At first, the unit may look very impersonal and intimidating, but behind all the technology there is a team who very much care about your baby’s needs. The medical staff will ensure that you are kept up-to-date on your baby’s care and condition. They will explain the functions of the equipment surrounding your baby and will give you a tour of the unit. The staff wants to help you and make you feel at ease in the unit and around your baby. It is likely that you will find it difficult to take in all the information given to you: this is not uncommon, but the staff are always happy to answer your questions and will try to give you as much information as possible.
Connecting with Your Baby
Your baby may look fragile in comparison to other babies. Sometimes, parents are afraid of touching their baby, but you should not be. Your baby is already familiar with your voice and unique scent from being in the womb. When you feel afraid, try to remember that by talking and gently touching your baby you are supporting them and helping their development.