When a new baby enters the world, many body systems change dramatically from the way they functioned during inside the womb:
baby lungs must be able to breathe air.
The babies cardiac and pulmonary circulation changes.
a baby's digestive system must begin to process food and excrete waste.
Next the infants kidneys must begin working in order to balance fluids, chemicals in the body and excrete waste.
Therefore the baby's liver and immunologic systems must begin functioning independently.
In the case of a baby born premature before 37 weeks some of these bodily functions are not mature enough to be able cope outside the womb, so assistance is needed until the premature baby reaches the gestation period of full term.( when these would have normally been fully developed ).Occasionally during a routine ultrasound scan the scan is so precise it can even pick up a kidney slightly blocked. In turn could later develop into kidney infections. Scan images can also identify birth defects, or abnormalities such as a cleft lip or palate.
These babies who need regular monitoring or surgery shortly after birth could need specialist help and that's where the neonatal intensive care units comes in to play. Especially for premature babies and those newborns needing care after immediate surgery after birth. It is now as technology has improved that surgeons can also offer surgery in the womb, plus taking baby out of the womb then put back in until delivery at a later date. These babies may also need neonatal intensive care after delivery to be monitored for a while.
We often get asked what does NICU SCBU and HDU mean as a premature infant clothes specialist store.
When a newborn baby has been born without any health problems, that need nursing care its kept with mum at her bedside in an open cot. Although babies are called a neonate for the first 28 days of life.
For premature infants needing extra care a stay in a different department called neonatal nursing care. Depending on how tiny and vulnerable the infant is determines which unit the tiny baby stays in. Gradually as baby becomes stronger and less dependant on medicines and breathing tubes etc Next they are moved onto a less dependant unit until nearly ready for home.
Next the last part of the ir stay is the SCBU special care baby unit. Some babies may need surgery at birth not because they are premature. Therefore a stay in the NICU or HDU unit is the place they will be looked after. Next baby can be closely monitored and given correct medications and or nursing care needs until ready for going home.
Over the past 10 years or so the care for premature babies has got better. More babies surviving from an earlier gestation. Next improvement in care for the lives of these babies. Research is continually being done. When doctors thought a baby would not survive they have been proved wrong time and time again with these tiny little fighters. yes a baby can go home on oxygen after being on a neonatal unit.
but you look at these children years down the line starting school catching up to their peers in height and to look at them you never would know they were once born premature. With around 300 babies born every day admitted onto the neonatal unit .The need for neonatal nurses is in high demand.
Unless you need a neonatal intensive care unit for your own baby you'd be surprised how so many people don't know what its for . You really have your eyes open to what goes on in there. Especially whilst most of your time is sitting by the incubator and keeping a round the clock vigil to what's happing to your little one.
If you think a neonatal nurses' job is holding babies all day you couldn't be farther from the truth. You have be on constant alert in the most intensive of care units known as the NICU. 24 hour monitoring of each baby. You have to keep your ears peeled for alarms going off and attend to them instantly. It could be a breathing machine alarm , a milk warmer alarm, or a baby's vitals alarm going off.
Next is attending to a child's care needs cleaning up after soiled nappies, baby sick, more sick and fluid leaks. feeding a baby via a tube bottle or encouraging mum to breast feed . Its a rewarding Job but very tiring working for the NHS now. 64% of shifts have enough staff. 32% being specialist qualified.
A neonatal nurse also helps families. A shoulder of support to cry with to laugh with, helping a dad become more involved instead of feeling a like spare part. You build strong relationships with people as they spend so much time themselves on the neonatal unit. Mums often blame themselves or their body for having a premature birth.
Its the talking to families that make each case more personal. Yes babies get really poorly there too often a bereavement makes you feel sad. But its nice to see a baby go home after a long stay on the unit. The one rule I would say is to lower the risk of infections on a neonatal intensive unit is wash your hands Neonatal nurses get obsessed with it.
Would I recommend you going into neonatal nursing or working as a midwife yes do it many mums often comment they would love to do something like this themselves when their children get older.
this is the best way of working out a neonatal unit stay for a premature infant. The premature babies rule of thumb for a NICU stay is born at 24 weeks means baby stays at the maternity hospital for approximately 16 weeks more weeks. With a pregnancy lasting 40-42 weeks.
yes its a long time but The more premature the baby the more immature its bodily functions will be. Do babies leave the unit early ? occasionally. For parents of a baby that has just been born prematurely please keep this date in mind. Next anything early is a bonus. Its a long time, a waiting game, feels like a lifetime, It requires a lot of patience. Well worth the wait when it comes to your baby's health.