Ask AF: Advice for the Time in the NICU

To new parents, the NICU can seem like a scary place. Here, get advice from parents who've been through it.

Q: I just accepted a stork drop situation for a two-week-old born with drug exposure. What can I expect at the NICU? I am a teacher and believe in nurture over nature, but I worry about the first months. Has anyone else been through this?


A: Members of respond:

“When my youngest started tremoring and screaming on her second night home, I did what I was taught to do with our preemie son — I kangarooed her, skin-to-skin. This helped with her symptoms, and was excellent for bonding. Swaddling also seemed to help her through tremors.”

“Honestly, the NICU experience was wonderful for us. Of course, none of us wants the medical concerns, but we felt surrounded by support and expertise. Seeing your baby hooked up to tubes and monitors can feel intimidating (and cumbersome) at first, but then we found it unsettling when we didn’t have the constant assurance of her heart rate. Leaving a hospital with a one-day old baby and flying home is what sounds intimidating to me now!”

“Keep in mind that nature and nurture both play roles. Nurture will surely help your baby get through withdrawal, but she was born with a different genetic code than yours, so she may have a different personality, and will certainly have different health concerns.”

“My daughter spent her first three weeks in the NICU due to drug exposure, but I adopted her from foster care at six months old, so can’t speak to the NICU part of it. What I do advise is to get her set up for Early Intervention as soon as possible. It was a godsend. She is now almost three and is smart, funny, athletic, and a pure delight. Good luck!”


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