As with anything in life, sometimes babies and new moms need a little extra help. A neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is equipped with advanced technology and experienced medical teams that specialize in delivery-day hiccups or high-risk pregnancies.
Did you know that each year, one out of every eight infants born in the U.S. is born ahead of schedule? Preterm birth, or birth prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy, can sometimes mean that extra care is needed for mom or baby. In a hospital with a NICU, most preterm health issues can be dealt with close by, right after your baby is born.
Preterm babies born at area hospitals are often transferred to a NICU. Even if you’ve spent your pregnancy eating all the right foods, attending all prenatal appointments, getting all the necessary testing, reading all the books and making it to term, sometimes full-term babies need extra attention, too. All babies—early, late or right on time—go through a transition period after birth where their bodies undergo some amazing transformations inside as they adapt to life outside the womb.
Babies who encounter difficulties during this transition period may require extra support that a NICU is ready and able to provide. They're able to provide babies who require ventilator support inhaled Nitric Oxide, which causes the blood vessels in the lungs to relax. They're also able to offer Therapeutic Hypothermia, a cooling treatment that helps to preserve neurologic function and decrease the risk of serious disability and death for under-oxygenated babies. This therapy must be initiated within six hours of birth, making it a valuable NICU resource.
It’s normal to be apprehensive about your birth experience; being at a hospital with a NICU is just one way to gain some peace of mind. We do all that we can to make sure your baby’s birth is special, safe and as worry-free as possible!