Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

What is NICU?

NICU stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It is a specialised medical unit in a hospital that provides intensive care for critically ill or premature newborn infants. The goal of the NICU is to provide a safe and supportive environment for newborns who require specialised medical care and attention.

Equipment in the NICU

The NICU is equipped with specialised equipment that is designed to monitor and treat critically ill or premature newborns. The equipment includes:

  1. Incubators
  2. Ventilators
  3. Heart monitors
  4. Pulse oximeters
  5. Feeding pumps
  6. Phototherapy lights

These machines help in monitoring the baby’s vital signs and provide respiratory support, nutrition, and protection from infections.

Staff in the NICU

The NICU is staffed by trained professionals who are specialised in caring for critically ill or premature newborns. The staff includes neonatologists, nurses, respiratory therapists, and occupational therapists.

Types of care provided in NICU

  • Respiratory care: Infants in the NICU often require assistance with breathing. Respiratory care includes oxygen therapy, mechanical ventilation, and other treatments to help infants with respiratory distress.
  • Nutritional care: Premature or sick infants may have trouble feeding, and some may require tube feedings or intravenous (IV) nutrition to provide essential nutrients for growth and development.
  • Infection control: Because newborns in the NICU have weak immune systems, infection control is a critical part of care. This includes measures such as hand hygiene, isolation precautions, and antibiotic therapy.
  • Monitoring: Infants in the NICU require frequent monitoring of vital signs such as heart rate, breathing rate, and oxygen saturation levels. This helps medical staff detect any changes in a baby's condition and provide appropriate interventions.
  • Developmental care: premature or sick infants may be at risk for developmental delays, and developmental care in the NICU can help promote healthy development. This includes measures such as positioning, sensory stimulation, and family-centred care.
  • Pharmacological care: Infants in the NICU may require medications for a variety of reasons, such as to treat infections, control pain, or help with breathing. Pharmacological care involves closely monitoring medication dosages and potential side effects.
  • Surgical care: Some infants in the NICU may require surgical interventions, such as for a congenital defect or other medical condition. NICU staff work closely with surgical teams to provide comprehensive care.
  • Emotional support: Having a baby in the NICU can be stressful for families, and emotional support is an essential component of NICU care. This includes support for parents and other family members as well as providing resources such as counselling services.

NICU staff work closely with families to provide individualised care plans that address the unique needs of each baby.

Procedures in the NICU

  1. Intubation and mechanical ventilation: If the baby is unable to breathe on its own, the neonatologist may insert a tube into the baby’s windpipe and connect it to a ventilator.
  2. Total parenteral nutrition (TPN): If the baby is unable to receive nutrition orally, the neonatologist may prescribe TPN, which is a form of nutrition that is administered intravenously.
  3. Phototherapy: If the baby has jaundice, the neonatologist may prescribe phototherapy, which is a treatment that uses special lights to break down the bilirubin in the baby’s blood.

Who Needs NICU Care?

  • Premature babies: Babies born before 37 weeks of gestation
  • Low birth weight babies: Babies who weigh less than 5.5 pounds at birth
  • Babies with respiratory problems: Some babies may need respiratory support such as oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation.
  • Babies with congenital conditions: Babies born with certain congenital conditions or birth defects may require specialised care.
  • Babies with infections: Babies who develop infections during pregnancy, delivery, or after birth may require NICU care.
  • Babies with feeding difficulties: Some babies may have difficulty feeding or may require specialised feeding support.
  • Babies with jaundice: Jaundice is a common condition in newborns and may require treatment in the NICU if it becomes severe.
  • Babies born to mothers with high-risk pregnancies: If a mother has a high-risk pregnancy due to factors such as diabetes, hypertension, or preeclampsia, the baby may need NICU care to ensure proper growth and development.

What to Expect in NICU?

The NICU can be an overwhelming experience for parents. The unit is equipped with specialised equipment and technology to provide advanced medical care to newborns. Parents are encouraged to participate in their newborn's care, such as feeding and changing their diaper.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Bengaluru - Jayanagar. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. How long do babies typically stay in the NICU?

The length of stay in the NICU can vary greatly depending on the baby's medical condition and needs.

2. Can parents visit their baby in the NICU?

Yes, most NICUs encourage parents to visit and participate in their baby's care as much as possible. However, there may be restrictions on visiting hours and certain procedures.

3. What can parents do to support their baby in the NICU?

Parents can provide emotional support to their babies by talking, singing, and touching them when allowed.

4. What are the 4 levels of NICU?

There are 4 levels of NICU, with Level 1 providing basic care and Level 4 offering the most advanced care for critically ill infants. Infants are admitted to a specific level of the NICU based on their gestational age, weight, and medical needs.

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