Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

NICU Nurses

There are many part-time and full-time nurses who rotate through the NICU.  In my 94 days in the NICU with my preemie girl I probably saw 40-50 different nurses who cared for my baby, or more;  it seemed like more.  You must remember that full-time for a nurse is three or four 12-hour shifts, and many nurses work only one or two shifts per week.  And, because nurses have to be present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that provides for a whole lot of nurses to rotate through the unit.  There will almost always be a nurse at your baby’s bedside (if they have to step out they ask a neighboring nurse to keep their eye on your baby), and typically one nurse is assigned to two or three babies during their shift.

There are all types of nurses who work in the NICU.  It may seem silly, but it’s something you don’t really think about until you’ve been hospitalized or you have to stay with your baby in the hospital.  There are older nurses who are set in the way they do things, there are nurses who ignore the requests of parents, there are nurses who will go out of their way to involve the parents, there are nurses who are a bit rough and unfeeling, there are nurses who are sweet and caring like a grandparent, there are young nurses, there are male nurses, there are talkative nurses and there are silent nurses.  Some nurses you will hope never get assigned to your baby again, and some you will wish could care for your baby every day.  Nurses can make or break your experience in the NICU because they are the ones you will interact with the most, and probably ask the most questions, and potentially get the most encouragement and help from.  They are the ones who will be directly handling your baby, feeding her, changing her diapers, monitoring her oxygen, and holding her.

Now, there are also primary nurses.  If a parent is pleased with a particular nurse then they may request that that nurse be their baby’s primary nurse.  If that nurse is not already a primary nurse for another baby then they can become your baby’s primary nurse.  This means simply that each time that nurse is on duty he will be assigned to care for your baby.  Now, remember, because a nurse works a maximum of 3-4 days a week and only for 12 hours of the day, your baby can have a number of primary nurses.  It’s wonderful to request primary nurses for your baby because you can become familiar with a few caregivers and have some stability in your NICU experience.  It’s difficult to survive a day with a nurse you dislike.

So, if you are in the NICU with your baby then be sure to ask nurses that you like to be your baby’s primary nurse.  You will have a much nicer time visiting your baby.

Afton Mower About Afton Mower

After Mower (UT) lost her firstborn son at 21 weeks.  Her daughter was born a year and a half later at 27 weeks.  The NICU was overwhelming and isolating and it was through those two experiences she was led to found this social hub for parents to find the support they needed. Afton also gave birth to another daughter, born two days overdue after four months of strict bedrest. She believes it is a tender experience to hold a special baby in your arms when his spirit returns to his heavenly home, a miracle to watch tiny babies survive the risks of prematurity and a blessing to hold a healthy full-term baby after months of difficulty and sacrifices.

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