Neonatal Intensive Care Unit 

It is every new mother and father wishes that their baby will be delivered safe and that the baby will have a successful transition into the new world. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and your baby may develop some problems during delivery or have some defects that you may have missed during the anomaly scan.Read more on Antenatal tests here. 

Luckily, with the help of the Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), it is possible to give special care to such children. Read on to see more about neonatal intensive care unit and how to cope.  

What is NICU?

The NICU is a special place in hospitals where newborn babies who need special attention are admitted. There are special equipment and staff who take care of children born prematurely or those that have other special needs. 

Some of the reasons why a newborn baby may be placed in the NICU are:

  • Have low birth weight; that is below 2.5kgs in Kenya 
  • There were complications during delivery 
  • Premature birth; that is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy
  • Multiple birth 

Ideally, babies are admitted in the NICU within the first 24 hours after birth. How long they remain there is determined by their condition.

What to Expect when Your Baby is in The NICU

When in the NICU, your baby is kept in an incubator or heated baby cot. Since infections could be dangerous to your baby at this time, anybody coming to the NICU is expected to sterilize their hands. 

Mothers are allowed in the NICU at all times. However, visitors time is limited to help reduce the chances of infections. 

Feeding Your Baby

Breastfeeding in the NICU is usually difficult for most babies. For such babies, milk is put straight in their stomach using special tubes that run through the nose in a process called gavage feeding. You can, therefore, express your breast milk and freeze it for bottle feeding, effectively improving your baby’s immune system. Other babies can be breastfed or bottle fed.

Contact with Your Baby

Getting into contact with your baby when they are in the NICU not only helps them get better faster, the mother is also able to produce more milk. The medical staff will also train you on how to take care of the baby in terms of feeding, bathing or checking their temperature. 

Coping with Your Feelings

Seeing your baby in the NICU can be an emotional and heartbreaking experience. However, you will need to be emotionally composed so you can offer your baby the support that they will need. 

  • Feel free to ask the doctors, paediatrician and nutritionist any questions or concerns that you may have to keep you calm. 
  • Additionally, in case there are support groups for parents whose children are in the NICU, join them to help you share your emotions and experiences. 
  • Ensure that you get enough food and rest to help reduce the stress. 



#Please note that development differs from one child to another. 

#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.


Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: pregnancybirthbaby, stanfordchildrens, unitypoint, kidshealth, raisingchildren

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