Monday, February 18, 2008

Bath Time

One of the things that NICUs like parents to do is give their baby a bath. This is another great opportunity to bond with your baby and take care of him/her just as you would at home. Given the circumstances it can be a little nerve wracking but it's a great experience to have.

Just like with everything else, every NICU has a different approach to things like giving babies a bath. Some NICUs will have you do it a couple of times to ensure you know how to do it while others may have you set-up a regular bath schedule. Once your baby gets stable enough to have a bath, find out what the policy is so that you can build it into your visit time and expectations. If you haven't been offered the opportunity, make sure to ask about giving a bath. Nurses may not realize you haven't done it or that you want to do it.

A nurse should be with you the entire time when you first give your baby a bath. They will help you through the process so that you learn the correct way to handle your baby and give him/her a bath. Try to block out the rest of the NICU so that you can just focus on your baby. Have your spouse or a family member there to take pictures and offer support. Don't be afraid to ask questions - this is the best opportunity to ask, especially if your baby requires any special positions, do's and don'ts or products.

Bath schedule - if your baby is going to be in the NICU for an extended period of time, you may be asked to schedule when you will give your baby a bath. They normally like you to choose specific days and keep that schedule as much as possible. Make sure to ask about timing - what is a good or bad time to give your baby a bath, are there better days to do it, etc. You want to make sure that the days/times work for you as well so that you have time to enjoy the process and not feel rushed.

Some babies need more baths than other babies. For example, babies who breathe fast due to lung issues tend to be sweatier than other babies. When that happens, nurses may step in to give your baby a bath more often than scheduled. If they start giving baths more frequently and on days when you were scheduled to do it - speak up. Let them know that you had planned (and wanted) to give your baby a bath that day. Again, not all nurses will know your preference or schedule so let them know.

Good luck and happy bathing!

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