A: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses spend lots of time with families and usually get to know them well. In essence, they're a one-stop information and service resource, providing the family with 24-hours-a-day updates on their baby's health status, and working with parents to help them provide as much care for their baby as they can. For example, a NICU nurse can teach a new mom how to feed a baby who has difficulty sucking, help parents read monitors and adjust medical equipment, and simplify complicated health issues. By the time their baby leaves the NICU, the parents are often practically nurses themselves. NICU nurses also work with a social worker to help parents handle this difficult time. Many hospitals offer NICU parent support groups. In many ways, talking to people who are going through the same challenges really makes families feel better.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2006. Updated 2009