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September is NICU Awareness Month and a time to honor and support families experiencing a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit.
It might be difficult to fully connect and understand what NICU parents are going through, but here are a few tips for family and friends from a NICU mama herself. Amber delivered twin girls 58 days early last year and offers some great advice:
Don’t ask a NICU parent when their baby/babies will be home. Believe me, if they knew, they’d be yelling it off the mountain tops.
Take time to visit them, if allowed, at the hospital. You might not know what to say or how to act or feel, but they need that normalcy of having a conversation with the outside world. Your world is moving fast, but theirs feels like it’s moving painfully slow.
Send them a check-in text. A silly GIF, a daily devotional or a video to watch doesn’t require a response from them, but they’ll know they’re on your mind.
Do what you can to help on the home front. Doing things like making home-cooked meals, preparing freezer meals, running errands, tidying up around the house or helping with the other children are extremely helpful. I had a hard time asking and letting this happen, but I’m so grateful for all those who pushed me to let them.
Follow up once they’re home. The same goes for all newborn parents. Make sure that they’re doing OK and are thought about. Also, if they aren’t ready for visitors or to allow you to hold their babies right away, be understanding and respectful of that.
Know that there are babies in the NICU who don’t have the same support and keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Seeing babies alone day after day broke my heart and encouraged me hug my babies harder.