The Team Caring For Your Baby
Many professionals work together to care for premature or sick babies.
You may meet some or all of the following: neonatologists, pediatric hospitalists,
registered nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, physical therapists,
occupational therapists, speech and language specialists, unit secretaries,
and nurse aides. Many professionals work together to care for premature
or sick babies.
What's a Neonatologist?
A Neonatologist is trained specifically to handle the most complex and
high-risk situations. If your newborn is premature, or has a serious illness,
injury, or birth defect, a neonatologist may assist at the time of delivery
and in the subsequent care of your newborn. If a problem is identified
before your baby is born, a neonatologist may become involved to consult
with your obstetrician in your baby's care during your pregnancy.
Neonatologists generally provide the following care:
- Diagnose and treat newborns with conditions such as breathing disorders,
infections, and birth defects.
- Coordinate care and medically manage newborns born premature, critically
ill, or in need of surgery.
- Ensure that critically ill newborns receive the proper nutrition for healing
- Provide care to the newborn at a cesarean or other delivery that involves
medical problems in the mother or baby that may compromise the infant's
health and require medical intervention in the delivery room.
Information provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
What's a Pediatric Hospitalist?
A pediatric hospitalist is a pediatrician who specializes in caring for
children while they are in the hospital. This person works with your child's
regular pediatrician throughout your child's stay and provides them
with instructions on any follow-up care.
What's a Neonatal Nurse?
Neonatal nurses are registered nurses with additional training allowing
them to specialize in the care of newborn infants.
What You Will See & Hear
Your nurse will explain what equipment your baby is using and what each
of the alarms you may hear means. Ask questions – we want you to
feel safe, comfortable and informed.
The NICU contains many machines and other types of equipment used to care
for sick babies with many different problems. These machines seem less
intimidating when you understand how they can help your baby.
- Bililights: The bright blue fluorescent lights placed over the baby are
used to treat jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Babies with jaundice
usually receive the "phototherapy" treatment for three to seven days.
- Blood pressure monitor: A machine connected to a small blood pressure cuff
wrapped around your baby's arm or leg. The cuff automatically takes
your baby's blood pressure at regular times and displays the numbers
on a screen.
- Cardiopulmonary monitor: A machine that tracks your baby's heart and
breathing rates. It is connected to your baby by small adhesive monitoring
pads placed on her chest. If your baby's heart rate or breathing rate
becomes too fast or too slow, an alarm will sound.
- Central line: An intravenous line inserted into a vein, in the arm or leg,
and leads into a larger vein in the body close to the heart. The line
delivers medicines or nutritional solutions. A PICC (peripherally inserted
central catheter) is a type of central line, which is placed in one of
the major blood vessels.
- C-PAP (continuous positive airway pressure): Air is delivered to a baby's
lungs either through small tubes in the baby's nose or through a tube
that has been inserted into their windpipe. The tubes are attached to
a mechanical ventilator, which helps the baby breathe, but does not breathe for them.
- Endotracheal tube: A small plastic tube, which is inserted through a baby's
mouth down into the trachea (windpipe). The tube is attached to a mechanical
ventilator, which can help a baby to breathe.
- Isolette: Babies are placed in this clear plastic box, which keeps them
warm and protects them from germs and noise.
- Intravenous line: Most premature and sick babies cannot be fed immediately,
so they must receive nutrients and fluids intravenously (through a vein).
A doctor or nurse will insert a very small needle or tube into a tiny
vein in the baby's hand, foot, arm, leg or scalp. Your baby also can
receive medications and blood through the IV line.
- Mechanical ventilator: A mechanical ventilator is a breathing machine that
delivers warmed and humidified air to a baby's lungs. The sickest
babies receive mechanical ventilation, meaning that the mechanical ventilator
temporarily breathes for them while their lungs recover. The amount of
oxygen, air pressure and number of breaths per minute can be regulated
to meet each baby's needs.
- Nasal cannula or nasal prongs: Small plastic tubes that fit into your baby's
nostrils and deliver oxygen.
- Oxygen hood: A clear plastic box that fits over the baby's head and
supplies him with oxygen.
- Pulse oximeter: A small device that is wrapped around a baby's foot
or hand and secured with a stretchy bandage. It uses a light sensor to
help determine if the baby has enough oxygen in her blood.
- Radiant warmer: An open bed with an overhead heating that provides heat
to a baby. A warmer may be used instead of an isolette if the baby needs
to be handled frequently.
- Umbilical catheter: A thin tube (catheter) inserted into the umbilicus.
Through this catheter, doctors and nurses can painlessly draw blood. They
don't have to repeatedly stick the baby with needles. They can give
fluids, blood, nutrients and medications through this tube. A small device
can be attached to the catheter to continuously monitor your baby's