Navigating the NICU

Although no one plans to have their baby in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, about 10% of newborns will spend some time there. Prematurity is the most common reason, but even some less severe, full term concerns such as respiratory issues, unstable blood sugar, infection, or jaundice may warrant a short stay. What should you know?  Dr. Sue Hall tells us more. Check it out!


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What we talked about:

  • What is a NICU, and the difference between the NICU and a Special Care Nursery
  • Reasons babies may be taken to the NICU
  • What can parents expect?
  • Running the emotional gamut
  • How can parents be part of the team and more involved in baby’s care?
  • How much of baby care can parents participate in?
  • Tips on communicating with the NICU staff
  • Connecting with your social worker ally
  • Being present for physician rounds
  • Where can parents find support
  • How much time can they spend with their babies? Other support areas? Rooms, breastfeeding support, pumping support. IBCLC’s?
  • Assistance – with transportation, meals, a place to stay?
  • Going home: tips for preparing and where to seek help
  • Processing the NICU stay
  • Special considerations in case of loss


Related resources*:


Related Birthful episodes:




Image courtesy of Dr. Sue Hall

About Dr. Sue Hall

Dr. Sue Hall has been a neonatologist for 25 years, and before that she worked as a master’s level social worker.  She has a BA from Stanford University, an MSW from Boston University, and an MD from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  She completed training in Pediatrics and Neonatology at The Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO, then joined the faculty at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine where she was affiliated for 19 years.  Now in private practice at a community hospital NICU in Southern California, Dr. Hall was the Co-Chair of the National Perinatal Association’s Workgroup on “Interdisciplinary Recommendations for Psychosocial Support of NICU Parents,” which resulted in publication of a supplement issue of Journal of Perinatology in December, 2015.  She is also the author of a book about life in the NICU, titled For the Love of Babies, published in June, 2011.

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