Your baby has had a rough start and has spent some time in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). You know that they are going to be coming home soon and you are both excited and scared. Don’t be alarmed by how you are feeling; under the circumstances, that is perfectly normal. After all, you aren’t a doctor or a highly trained, experienced professional. Rest assured, your medical team takes many factors into account when they consider discharging your child, and certainly at the top of this list are medical factors, but they also consider how ready you are and the level of care that will be needed at home. Also of concern to the doctors is the length of hospital stay. They want you to be able to bond with your infant, which is difficult in a hospital environment, and they want to reduce the risks of exposure to hospital acquired infections. They also know that a parent that is prepared for discharge and will be attentive to follow-up care needs and will work to reduce the risks posed to your child. With advances in technology, many pre-term and ill infants are discharged with the need for ongoing supportive care. Chief among these are nutritional and respiratory support, including supplemental oxygen.
Ideally, your child learned to suck from the trained professionals in the NICU, however sometimes premature babies aren’t able to metabolize their food properly and may need supplemental feedings. If your baby hasn’t learned to suck and the doctors think that they may need long term tube feeding, your child may need to have a Gastrostomy tube inserted. This tube is surgically inserted into the stomach through the abdomen. Through this tube your child will receive formula, fluids, and medicines. Before discharge, you will receive education on the care of the gastrostomy tube.
If your child still has complications of prematurity that are affecting their respiratory system, they may be discharged with supplemental oxygen. Your child also may need to have machines that monitor their heart, breathing, and oxygen levels. Some more critically ill infants may be discharged with mechanical ventilation. In this case your child will also need home-nursing support, at least for part of the day.
Discharge planning begins shortly after your child is born. Your medical team knows that to transition your child from the NICU to your home multiple criteria will need to be met. Chief among these criteria are:
If you are the parent of a premature infant that will be discharging from a greater Cincinnati NICU in the next month, contact RSVP Home Care. They are the #1 provider of pediatric home care in the greater Cincinnati area. With a full line of durable medical equipment and medical staff that are experts in respiratory therapy, they are your go-to source for meeting your baby’s needs.
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