Having a baby in the NICU is difficult. Parents are going through a gambit of emotions daily due to celebrating milestones and mourning setbacks. This is why parents of NICU babies need so much support because there is only so much that these parents can take. Knowing that they have a village behind them may just be the strength they need to get through the experience stronger as a family than ever before. And when friends and family find ways to help parents in the NICU they are helping families on the brink more than they know.
According to Parenting, 10 to 15 percent of babies born in the United States yearly will have to be in the NICU for some period of time. While the reasons vary from mild medical attention needed to the extreme, having a baby in the NICU is never how any parents imagine their first days of parenthood to be.
But when they have the love and support of those in their lives surrounding them, getting through the trying days feels a bit easier.
Here are ways to help parents with a baby in the NICU.
10 Offer To Drive To The Hospital
Driving to and from the hospital can feel overwhelming when parents are exhausted. As such, offering to drive or to pay for a ride-sharing service so that driving is one less responsibility on their plate is a great way to help.
9 Help With Older Kids At Home
What a lot of people tend to forget about is that when there are older siblings at home, parents of NICU babies are stressing about making their lives as normal as possible while spending time in the hospital with the littlest member of the family.
Therefore, offering to watch older kids or take them to their activities may take a weight off of parents’ shoulders that they did not even know they were carrying.
8 Make Easy Meals For The Hospital
Every hospital varies as far as the quality of food in the cafeteria. And even if it is decent enough, it can get old depending upon the length of stay at the NICU. As such, making easy-to-take meals for NICU parents is much appreciated.
According to Children’s Hospital of Orange County, while parents are generally not allowed to eat at babies’ bedsides, there are cafeterias to go to as well as microwaves to use to bring in food from home. As such, the more nutritious meals NICU parents can get, the more energy and strength they will have to care for their little ones.
7 Keep Checking In
During the early days of babies being in the NICU, friends, and family are checking in constantly. And even if parents are not calling back or texting intermittently, the calls mean a lot.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents of babies in the NICU have a lot on their plates. They are dealing with feelings of guilt, powerlessness, fear, anger, and more, per the publication. As such it makes sense for them to not respond to every message they get. But that does not mean that the support calls are not appreciated. And because of this, friends and family should keep them coming so that NICU parents know how loved and cared for they are.
6 Find Ways To Celebrate The Baby
It can be hard to remember that when babies are in the NICU, they are a new life to be celebrated. As such, bring a little celebration into the lives of NICU parents by having a mini celebration in the cafeteria, providing items to decorate the babies’ cribs, or whatever else feels like a way to welcome a new baby into the world. The joy will be much appreciated.
5 Offer To Take Pets While Time Is Spent At The Hospital
As much as parents love their fur kids, they can be a burden when caring for babies in the NICU. Because of this, offering to take care of pets while parents are not able to take a great deal of responsibility off of their shoulders and allows the focus to be on caring for babies.
4 Jump On The Meal Train For Family At Home
Meals are great for parents who are choosing to stay at the hospital. But the rest of the family may need some home-cooked meals as well. Therefore, jump on or start a meal train for the family. This way, even if meals are so voluminous that they get frozen, there will be plenty for families to eat who are not going to the hospital and then for the family to enjoy when NICU babies are able to return home.
3 Give Gift Cards
There can be many purchases that parents of NICU babies need to make that are unexpected. This can be anything from clothes, special equipment, baby products, and the like. And of course, all of these things add up.
As such, provide NICU parents with gift cards for some of these expenses. They will be greatly appreciative of the help, especially when their minds are going a million miles per minute when preparing to bring their little ones home.
2 Be There To Just Listen
Sometimes, all NICU parents need is an opportunity to vent. And when this happens, if friends and family are there to listen, the emotional support can sometimes be greater than anything physical that could be given.
Because of this, if people see a phone call come in or are extended an invitation to come to the hospital and are available to take the call or go, it would be wonderful if they could. And NICU parents will remember the support they had when they needed it most.
1 Keep Offering Support Once Baby Comes Home
Once NICU babies are released from the hospital, those on the outside think that the hardest part is over. But for some families, life does not return to normal simply because they returned home.
Therefore, friends and family can keep providing support outside the hospital. And doing this allows NICU parents to figure out what their routine with their babies is to try to settle into life with their new babies.
Source: Parenting, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, American Academy of Pediatrics