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

NICU – The Layout

I am going to briefly describe the layout of the NICU which will give you some idea of what to expect when you visit the NICU and will help you parents understand what resources may be available to you in the unit.

First of all, there will be a series of small to large rooms where the babies are stationed throughout the NICU, each housing babies at slightly different stages of care and development.  Triage (Room 1) is the room that most babies are admitted to when they first arrive at the NICU.  It is the room where the most immediate health needs are addressed and then babies are sorted from there into the appropriate room for more long-term care.  Room 2 holds micro preemies and the majority of preemies who are in incubators who are stable.  The rest of the rooms house mostly babies who have graduated to open cribs who are stable and healthy and are simply growing and learning to eat.  There are also one or two isolation rooms where very sick preemies or babies will be cared for until they are stable or no longer a threat to other babies.

Patient rooms will house anywhere from about six to 16 babies.  There will be curtains at every baby’s station to provide privacy when needed, and portable breast pumps available.  Larger rooms may even have one or two private pumping rooms curtained off, complete with chairs, table, and TV.  Rocking chairs and stools will be available throughout the patient rooms for parent use, and nurses computers and supply stations will be in every room.

You will find in the NICU a number of freezers which hold containers of pumped breastmilk.  Each mother is assigned shelf or drawer space in a freezer to store all of her milk which will be used to feed only her preemie baby.

Hand-washing stations will be placed near room entrances so that anyone entering a patient room can wash their hands thoroughly with soap and provided hand scrubbers and fingernail cleaners.

Parent Rooms are available for pumping, relaxing, making phone calls, sleeping, rooming-in with your baby, etc.  They are typically equipped with couches, table and chairs, a TV, movies, a private restroom and shower, a pull-down bed, and a hospital phone.

A parent lounge may be available for parents to eat in.  These typically have counter space, cupboards with paper plates and plastic utinsels, a microwave, small refrigerator, TV, sink, table, and chairs.

A parent restroom may also be available separate from and near to the parent rooms.

You will also find in the NICU a nurses restroom, nurses lounge, receptionist desk, drinking fountains, parent lockers, parent information board, preemie holiday pictures board, a nurses schedule board, and hospital supply rooms.

Depending on the size of your NICU it may be slightly different or not have as many parent rooms, but generally it is a very germ-free environment with visitor restrictions and some privacy.  The unit is crawling with doctors, nurses, students, social workers, OTs, and many other staff who are there to help your baby get healthy and make it home as soon as possible.

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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