Friday, September 3, 2010

How can I help?

I found this great link yesterday when I was looking up random NICU information. I agree nearly 100% with it so I thought I'd post it over here too... It's mostly specifically about premature babies (as probably 90% of NICU babies are there because of prematurity - that's my estimate from my limited experience in NICU anyway). But whatever reason a baby is in NICU, I think the principles below generally hold pretty true.

1. Don't judge the parent's reactions. There is no right or wrong way to deal with a premature birth.
2. Don't compare the baby's needs to those of a full-term baby OR to other preemies.
3. Don't just say "Call me if you need something." Do something! You can provide dinners, do yard work, go grocery shopping, offer to drive them to the hospital, and/or clean their house.
4. Be available when parents ask for help. If we ask for help, that means we needed it a long time ago.
5. Don't discuss the possibility of death or severe complications unless the parents initiate it.
6. Be inconvenienced. Helping someone should not always be bound by our comfort zones and busy schedules.
7. Buy appropriate gifts for the family, such as disposable cameras, calling cards, rolls of quarters, snacks, magazines, photo albums, journals, scrapbooks, and gift cards.
8. Support and praise a mother who is pumping breast milk during the baby's hospitalization. If is very difficult to maintain a milk supply when the baby is unable to nurse directly from the breast.
9. Baby-sit free of charge if the parents have older children. You can do this so parents can visit the hospital together or go out on a date.
10. When asking about the baby's progress, always listen carefully to the parent's response. Then, the next time you speak with them, refer back to the last thing they told you.
11. Offer encouragement during setbacks and gently remind parents of previous obstacles the baby has overcome.
12. Don't ask "when is she coming home?" The parents want the baby to come home too, but there are no quick fixes in the NICU. Besides, they will let everyone know when the time finally comes!
13. Don't be fooled by smiling faces. Just because the parents are smiling doesn't mean everything is going well.
14. Don't offer too much unsolicited advice.
15. Show interest in the baby and the parents throughout the hospitalization and after the baby has been home a while.
16. Make sincere compliments about the baby whenever you're visiting the hospital or looking at photos.
17. Don't compare their experience with someone else's hospitalization.
18. Offer a hug when the parents are expressing grief.
19. Avoid discussing disappointing news or concerns within hearing distance of older siblings. The older children are suffering as well.
20. Nicely recommend that counseling be sought when parents show signs of losing control.


  1. May I add one to the list?

    -Don't say to someone with a sick child "I know how you feel, when my Mom/Dad was sick/died..." because they are NOT the same.

  2. How I wish I would have found your blog in April. We were told that our unborn child most likely had SD, and we were also counseled to terminate, and we were told this several times. In the end it turned out to be a severe case of IUGR. We spent seven weeks in the NICU and just brought her home last week.

    You are handling this with so much more grace than I did. I was depressed and anxious and so angry with God. Your blog would have been such an encouragement to me.

    Anyway, I have spent the last two hours reading your blog, and I know this...Your beautiful baby girl is so fortunate to have you as her mother. You have unconditionally loved her and trusted in God. What could be better than that? Also, you are very fortunate to have her. What a gift you have been given in her.

    Thank you for sharing the song by Mark Shultz. My husband and I listened to that a few minutes ago and cried. It was our story.