Q: What happens when my baby is ready to leave the NICU?
A: It can be nerve-racking to take your baby home from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after she's been so well cared for by the nurses there, but trust that nurses will carefully train parents to make sure they know how to do everything to take care of their baby. Babies leaving NICU often go home with medicine and equipment such as oxygen tanks. They may also still have trouble feeding, so the nurses will teach you how to distinguish between signs of distress and ordinary responses from their baby -- for example, a premature baby's heart rate may go up noticeably while she feeds, which is nothing to worry about. And if you're still concerned, you can call nurses with questions whenever you need to.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2006. Updated 2009