Saturday, July 11, 2009

How to reduce your stress while in the NICU --- These ten simple ways.

Your baby is sick. You're scared. There are machines everywhere and you don't know what is going on or what will happen. As a parent, this could possibly be one of the most stressful situations you will ever be in. How do you cope?

I found staying organized really helped reduce my stress so I could focus all my energy on Wyatt and family and not on distractions. Here are my top ten simple ways to reduce NICU stress:

  1. Bring a book. You will need something to give you a mental break.
  2. Pack a lunch, water and several snacks. Great for the budget and those long after hours.
  3. Have about $5 in change always on you for parking, vending machines, pay phones, etc. ...
  4. Wear very comfortable clothes. You'll be really thankful for this.
  5. Have an extra set of comfortable clothes with you. You'll be REALLY thankful for them when someone poops on your lap or throws up all down the front of you!
  6. Bring a cozy sweater or sweatshirt for yourself. NICUs can be rather cool.
  7. Bring an outfit or item for baby that represents the "normal world" for you both. I saw other moms and dads have cute little outfit on a hangers by baby's bed. I had a mobile and a stuffed giraffe for Wyatt.
  8. Have a pen and notebook with you. Information will be coming at you from everywhere and it will be overwhelming at times. Jotting down notes of what you are told helps you feel in control. Plus the journaling/recording aspect is comforting. It's an instant reminder of how far you've come when you need it at your fingertips.
  9. Have a phone tree in place. It's very nice to know you can call one person with updates and that person will pass them on to the next family member/friend on your list. Sometimes it gets really hard to say the same news over and over again to everyone when all you want to do is be by baby's side.
  10. Have a personal music player filled with whatever sounds that relax you the most.

Everyone has their own personal list and I really wish someone had given me some tips when I started going to the unit. Being uncomfortable or unprepared magnifies stress on an already full stress plate.

Hope this helps! What are/were some of your stress relievers?


Sommer C. said...

The journal was a big one for me. Every day, I would write the date, the day # in the NICU and at the very least, my babies' stats for that day -- weight, length (if it was a measuring day), and feed amount. And then I'd just jot whatever, i.e. "Grammy came to see you today". Some days all I have are their stats that I took from their charts because I was separated from them for five days.

I also used the back of each page to keep a record of my pumping. I would record the time, duration, and amount in oz collected from each breast to make sure I was keeping to my pumping schedule and keeping ahead of their feeding needs. It seems neurotic, but I don't believe I could have pumped exclusively for twins -- and then gone on to nurse them for 16.5 months -- without it!!

laceync2004 said...

I just found this post today and I am saying prayers for your family and would love to know how Wyatt & your family are doing now.