Parents of babies at MedStar Georgetown NICU may ask questions of the staff at any time. Some frequently asked questions include:
When will my baby (or babies) go home?
Each baby is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. A general guideline is that around your baby's due date, he or she will be ready to go home. Babies born in the second trimester are usually the most fragile and may have to be treated beyond their due dates. Babies born close to term may have very little time in the NICU. The neonatology team will have to consider your baby's overall health, as well as progress during his or her NICU stay.
I have multiples. Will they go home at the same time?
Not necessarily. Individual babies are born at different weights and with different health conditions. Babies are discharged from the NICU when the neonatology team determines they are ready to be at home. Don't be surprised if your multiples go home on different days.
Will I be able to breastfeed my baby?
Yes. Breast milk provides excellent nutrition for all babies, including ones who are premature or ill. Often, babies in the NICU cannot breastfeed immediately. Mothers are encouraged to pump their breast milk. When your baby is able to receive this kind of nutrition, your milk will be fed to your baby via a nasal-gastric tube or other means. On-staff lactation consultants, part of MedStar Health support services, are available to help both with pumping and transitioning your baby to the breast.
Will I be able to hold my baby?
Yes. Generally, MedStar's NICUs follows a "high-touch" philosophy - encouraging holding, touching and stroking of your infant. "Kangaroo care," where babies and care providers are skin-to-skin, is used to stabilize vitals, promote recovery, encourage bonding and stimulate breast milk production in moms. It may depend on the day and your baby's condition. If your baby is undergoing treatments or feeling unwell, you may have to wait.
How will I take care of my baby at home?
Babies who are released from the care of the NICU may require follow-up care, available through our transitional services. If your baby goes home while on oxygen or medication, you are invited to spend a night in our Nesting Place, part of MedStar Health NICUs support services. The Nesting Place simulates a night at home with your baby, but nurses are available to provide help or answer questions.