Preparing for Discharge
Since the time your baby was born you have been anticipating the day that you can all go home as a family. After your baby has completed the necessary milestones, he or she will be ready to go.
Although you are elated that this day has finally come, you may also feel anxious to leave the security of the hospital. Try not to worry too much. The hospital staff will help you prepare to take your baby home. They will help you learn how to feed your baby, give medications, take temperatures, and use any specialized medical equipment at home. If your hospital permits, take a chance to ‘room in’ with your baby prior to discharge. This gives you the opportunity to gain experience in your baby's care but have access to nurses if questions arise.
The more practice that you are able to get while in the NICU the more prepared you will be when arriving home. Check if your hospital offers infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) classes and learn how to administer properly. If the hospital does not offer a class you can check with your local Red Cross or Fire Department. Additionally, make sure your vehicle and home is outfitted with the necessary safety precautions to keep baby safe.
Lastly, you may need to select specialists for your baby's continued care. Your baby may also need to undergo routine testing. Make sure to ask your NICU team for this information and see if they are able to refer you to trusted professionals in your area.
Congratulations, you are now the parent of a NICU graduate! Right now you are focusing most all your energy on your new baby and trying to understand the overwhelming amount of information that you are being given. Staying organized is a great way for you to gain control in a situation where you may feel you don't have any.
Depending on your child's needs you may have several doctors’ appointments to schedule, new medical equipment to learn how to use, and a wide variety of medicine to administer. You need to create a system that will work for you. One of the easiest things to manage is a binder system that is expandable, easy to follow and that you can carry with you.
Within the binder you should have a section for all contact information (a list can be found in our contact section), a medication schedule, a section for authorizations that are covered for when your infant has a doctor's appointments, and a place to store information that the doctors provide to you. Also save a place to store your receipts, co-pays, and mileage information as all of that is tax-deductible.
Research shows that NICU babies are at risk for developmental delays in speech and language, cognitive skills, and motor skills. Getting these delays identified and treated early gives your child a better chance of reaching his or her full potential. Children that are at risk are often referred to an early intervention program. States are required to evaluate infants and toddlers who are at risk or have developmental delays and disabilities and provide support services to these children.
Your child will have a diagnostic evaluation to determine his or her strengths as well as areas that need improving. The evaluation may include health care providers from the following areas:
Early intervention programs are designed for families and service providers to work together to ensure the best possible scenario for your child.