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What happens when a baby enters the NICU?

What happens when a baby first enters the NICU?
Submitted by American Baby Team

There's a pretty standard protocol. First, the baby is placed on a warmer, an open flat bed with a heating element above it, to make sure her body temperature doesn't drop. Then she is hooked up to a heart monitor and the NICU doctors and nurses assess her respiratory status. She may need oxygen through her nose or a tube inserted into her throat to help her breathe. After that, doctors take blood and set her up with some form of intravenous food, fluid, or medicine through a vein or through the umbilical cord. Finally, when all of the baby's vital signs and blood test results are back from the hospital lab, the team creates a health plan for the baby.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2006. Updated 2009

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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