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The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, also referred to as the Neonatal ICU, or NICU, is a specialized critical care unit within a hospital that cares for and treats premature and sick infants. A Neonatal ICU is staffed by neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners, neonatal nurses. Pediatricians and other specialized physicians will also follow and contribute to the care of infants in the Neonatal ICU.

Each Neanotal ICU functions as either a level 4, level 3, level 2, or level 1 NICU. These levels are determined by the types of infants they are capable of caring for. Level 4 neonatal units can care for the most sick and premature infants, providing life support treatments such as ECMO. Level 3 neonatal units can provide care for extremely premature infants, as well as provide respiratory treatments via ventilators and oscillators. Level 2 and level 1 neonatal units will care for infants that do not need certain specialized care that level 3 and 4 NICUs provide.

NeonatalICU.com is designed to help parents with babies in the NICU understand the neonatal environment, as well as what lies in store for them and their precious baby in the coming days, weeks, or months.

Recent NICU Articles

Neonatal UVC

An umbilical venous catheter (UVC), or umbilical vein catheter, is a very small line inserted into the infant's umbilical vein.  In the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, the UVC functions to help deliver medication and fluids to the neonate. A UVC is often inserted immediately after birth in sick or premature infants, when the umbilical vein is most easily accessible.  This is due to the umbilical cord having been recently cut. The procedure for inserting a UVC in the Neonatal … [Read More...]

Neonatal UAC

An umbilical artery catheter (UAC), or umbilical arterial catheter, is a very small line inserted into the infant's umbilical artery.  The umbilical cord contains one vein and 2 arteries.  Insertion of a UAC could be in either artery. In the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, the UAC can help to deliver medication and fluids to the neonate via intravascular access.  A UAC can also allow for the access and ability to take arterial blood pressure measurements, and arterial blood … [Read More...]

What is a Neonatal Nurse?

Neonatal Nurse A neonatal nurse is a registered nurse who takes care of sick and premature infants in a neonatal intensive care units.  Neonatal nurses have earned either an Associate's Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree that allowed them to earn their registered nurse license. Neonatal nursing is a specialty that is specific to the care of infants that are born early, or prematurely, or are sick upon or shortly after birth.  A neonatal nurse may also be referred … [Read More...]

Neonatal Nursing Schools

Neonatal Nursing Schools Current or future nurses wanting to pursue a nursing degree to become a neonatal nurse have an exciting education path infront of them.  While working in the neonatal intensive care unit is an exciting nurse specialty, all prospective NICU nurses must first have their nursing degree...more specifically, they must be a registered nurse, or have their RN license. Nursing school for prospective neonatal nurses is no different than that of any other nursing … [Read More...]

When You Can’t Touch Your Baby in the NICU

In the NICU, parents are often forced with the difficult challenge of not being able to touch their baby.  This could be for many reasons, including extreme prematurity, sensitivity precautions, and other medical related reasonings. The NICU nurse or doctor may ask parents not to touch their baby because any form of touch or contact could possibly irritate or create unwanted stimulation for the infant.  In the case of prematurity, everything inside a baby's body is extremely sensitive and … [Read More...]

Premature Infant’s Appearance

In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, babies born prematurely are often admitted to the unit for critical care.  Neonatal infants are not fully developed, as prematurity involves some unique physical traits.  Parents with a premature infant will look at their tiny baby, and see an infant that is very different that a full-term newborn infant. There are many features and appearances specific to preterm infants, mostly due to the infant not having fully developed in the mother's … [Read More...]

Infant Gestational Age

Infant Gestational Age in the NICU When an infant is born, their gestational age is calculated by the total mount of time in utero, or inside the mother's uterus.  The neonatal intensive care unit will often admit premature babies, also called preemies or preterm infants. So what exactly defines a premature gestational age?  The following gestations are a general guideline for prematurity: Premature - Under 37 weeks gestation.  Infants with a gestational age of 36 weeks and below are … [Read More...]

NICU Infant Weights and Birth Weights

An infant in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, has their weight measured on a daily basis.  An infant or premature baby's weight is an important number to know, as it can affect everything from diet and nutrition to medications. Neonatologists and Pediatricians will carefully monitor an NICU infant's weight to determine the best possible care plan.  Many parents with babies in the NICU generally expect to see a weight in pounds.  However, in the NICU, the common measurement … [Read More...]

Ameda Breast Pumps

PURELY YOURS ULTRA™ BREAST PUMP WITH CUSTOMFIT™ FLANGES A Custom Approach – Because Every Mom is Unique Ameda knows moms respond differently to different pumping patterns. Purely Yours Ultra's CustomControl™ dual adjustability has separate suction and speed dials that let you choose from 32 different combinations to customize your pumping experience for the best results every time Ameda takes customization a step further with its CustomFit Flange System™. Moms need their breast … [Read More...]

How Much Breast Milk Should I Pump Per Day?

How much breast milk should I pump per day?  This is an extraordinarily common question many mothers ask, especially first-time moms new to breastfeeding.  The motherly instinct to provide the best possible nutrition for her baby has create certain uncertainties that need answers. When finding out how much breast milk a mom should pump per day, she should seek the advice of her OB/GYN and/or her baby's pediatrician.  These two resources will be invaluable assets in terms of breastfeeding … [Read More...]

Labeling and Storing Breast Milk in the NICU

Every NICU will have unique policies in regards to labeling and storing breast milk.  Because of this, it is important for a mother to ask the baby's NICU nurse what should specifically be done in regards to the laebling and storing of her breast milk. A common practice for many NICUs is to have the mother use a label that has her baby's name and medical record number on it.  These labels will be placed on the storage container for the breast milk.  It should have the date and time the … [Read More...]

Importance of Collecting Breast Milk

When a premature infant is born, they are usually not ready to breastfeed immediately after birth.  In fact, it may be days, weeks, or months before the baby is ready to breastfeed, depending on how early the infant was born, or the severity of the condition keeping the child in the NICU. It is important for mothers to begin expressing their breast milk very soon after birth, because this provides the first form of breast millk, colostrum.  Colostrum is a nutrient-packed form of breast milk … [Read More...]

Renting a Breast Pump

Renting a breast pump is a very important part of expressing milk for a baby.  Mothers with a preterm infant will often find themselves unable to breastfeed, due to their baby's prematurity.  regardless of the circumstances, renting a breast pump is a tremendous asset in the care and feeding of a baby. The best type of breast pump would be a hospital-grade pump, that has a dual collecting kit, which enables the pump to collect breast milk from both breasts at the same time.  These are … [Read More...]

Causes of Birth Defects

What are the causes of birth defects?  What causes birth defects to occur?  These are common questions asked by parents who are expecting a baby with a congenital birth defect.  There can be many reasons why birth defects happen, but the actual causes of birth defects generally are unknown. Parents seeking the cause of their infant's birth defect are often left with many questions unanswered.  This can lead to frustration, because it can leave them questioning many of their actions and … [Read More...]

What are Birth Injuries?

What is a birth injury? A birth injury is also known as birth trauma, which consists of an injury that occurs during birth, usually while the infant is in the birth canal.  There are a number of reasons a birth injury may occur, with the results varying from mild to severe. It is hard to predict when a birth injury may occur, and for parents, it can be a very worrisome and stressful event.  Depending on the severity of the birth injury, the infant may be admitted to the Neonatal Intensive … [Read More...]