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Questions to Ask When Your Baby's in the NICU

If your newborn is getting care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), you'll want to learn as much as you can about your child's health. The more you learn, the better prepared you'll be to help and care for your baby.

What Should I Ask the Doctors and Nurses?

Below are some questions you might want to ask:

  • Why is my baby here?
  • Will I be able to hold or touch my baby?
  • Can I stay with my baby? Can I sleep here?
  • What is my baby’s daily care plan? What treatments is my baby getting?
  • What medicines is my baby getting?
  • Do the medicines have side effects?
  • What types of tests will be done? Why does my baby need these tests?
  • How long will my baby be here?
  • How can I help my baby?
  • Will I be able to breastfeed or bottle-feed my baby. If so, when and how?

Nurses are responsible for the daily care of your baby, such as feeding, changing, bathing, and giving medicines. You can ask your baby's nurse questions about how to care for your baby in the NICU. You will also be encouraged to take part in your baby’s care when your baby is healthy enough for you to do so.

What Should I Ask the Social Worker?

The hospital's social worker and case manager are there to support your family. Some questions you might want to ask:

  • What services does the hospital offer to families?
  • Is nearby short-term housing offered (such as through a Ronald McDonald House)?
  • How do we know what is covered by our health plan?
  • How do we apply for benefits? How do we get financial help?
  • Is there a support group for parents in the NICU?
  • Is there a counselor who can help us with tough decisions?
  • What advice do you give for coping when your baby is in the NICU?
  • How should we prepare for when our baby goes home?

What Should I Ask About Taking My Baby Home?

When the day comes to bring your little one home, you may be feeling a mix of relief, joy, and worry. Prepare ahead of time for your baby's homecoming. These questions can help:

  • When will my baby be ready to leave the NICU?
  • How can I care for my baby at home? Are there any special instructions for me?
  • Does my baby need special equipment or monitoring? If so, how do I use it?
  • Will a visiting nurse come to our home to help and check on us?
  • Should I learn CPR?
  • Can we have visitors? Are there any special precautions?
  • When should we see the pediatrician? Are there other doctors my baby will need to see?
  • What if I have questions about my baby when I'm home?
  • How will I know if my baby needs to see a doctor (signs of fever, etc.)?

By learning all you can before your baby leaves the hospital, you'll feel better prepared for the days ahead.

Reviewed by: Lynn M. Fuchs, MD
Date Reviewed: Oct 15, 2021

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