Sometimes, babies need extra help in getting off to the right start. For instance, a premature birth, illness or infection may require the specialized care of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU.
The Bethesda Center for Women and Children is proud to provide the highest level of neonatal care available in our Level III NICU. A neonatologist (a pediatrician specializing in the care of sick newborns), is in the unit 24 hours a day; specialized equipment includes ventilators designed for immature lungs, and incubators to help support our tiniest patients.
The registered nurses in the NICU have completed special certification for caring for premature and seriously ill infants. When possible, they help mom and dad participate in their baby's care such as feeding, bathing or changing diapers. The NICU team also includes specially trained respiratory therapists, physical and occupational therapists and radiology technicians to help babies in the NICU get the best start possible. In addition, a case manager is assigned to each family to help make arrangements for any special needs the baby may have when it is time to go home.
Parents are encouraged to visit their baby in the NICU often, any time of day or night. Some families bring small toys or blankets from home to put in the bed, or pictures colored by older siblings at home. Many parents are also surprised to learn that moms can feed their babies in the NICU with pumped breast milk and can nurse their baby when clinical conditions allow.