If you work in a NICU—whether as a neonatologist, nurse practitioner, bedside nurse, neonatal therapist, or other staff—you have experienced firsthand how stressful it can be to care for tiny, fragile babies whose lives may hang in the balance. Sometimes you just don’t know how you can face another parent with “bad news.” Sometimes you may be so exhausted and stressed out, your energy only extends as far as providing the babies assigned to you with quality medical care; you may have nothing left to give to the babies’ parents. NICU parents will remember their feelings about the care you and your team provide long after their baby has been discharged from the NICU, largely based on their perceptions of how well their needs are met. This perception is the result of the quality of communication between you and the parents, more so than the quality of medical care you actually provide.
The responsibility for improving communication with, and providing support to, NICU parents lies squarely with you, as a NICU caregiver. But working one of the highest-stress areas of the hospital—the NICU—puts you at risk of burnout. This in turn can handicap your ability to offer supportive care to emotionally vulnerable NICU parents. Both issues—staff education and staff support—require your attention as a NICU caregiver.
This site has resources for both parents and professionals. You are free to explore both areas, but you will find resources directed specifically at professionals in the “Professionals” section. You will find downloadable/printable handouts from a variety of organizations and hospitals, bibliographies to read on specific topics, and materials that will help you transform the NICU in your own community into one that provides as comprehensive support for families as possible. You will also find links to other online professional resources.
Peer Support: Here you will find materials that are available to help you work with parents in your community to start a peer support organization as well as connect you with a wide range of existing peer support organizations.
Family-Centered Developmental Care: Find information about how to get parents more involved in their baby’s care alongside your NICU team, as well as what your NICU can do to improve neuroprotection for babies.
Mental Health Professionals in the NICU: Resources for psychologists and social workers are available, as well as information about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders that may affect NICU parents.
Palliative and Bereavement Care: You will find resources on birth plans for parents expecting babies who may be born with life-limiting conditions, links to special services such as remembrance photographers and Angel Gowns, palliative care order sets as well as links to organizations that specialize in supporting bereaved parents.
Post-Discharge Support: Find out more about what resources are available to parents after they leave the NICU.
Staff Education and Support: Find resources on topics for staff education as well as resources for supporting NICU staff.