Rachel over at Rachel's Giveaways http://rachelsgiveaways.blogspot.com wrote this guest post. Prematurity is near and dear to my heart, as both of my babies were born early and with complications! Thanks Rachel, for all you do to save babies like mine!
Most people can only imagine what it's like to care for a 1 pound baby whose eyes are still fused shut and requires life support, but that's part of my day to day job as a neonatal nurse. I work in a busy Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and we mainly care for premature babies or babies with congenital defects. We will attempt to resuscitate and care for babies who arrive as early as 23 weeks gestational age - so they are born about 4 months early!
Imagine being an expectant mother and thinking you still have months to plan and prepare, and all of the sudden you are having an emergency C-section to deliver a very critical baby! November was Prematurity Awareness Month, and I have been posting various ways that people can help this cause. Why should we care? One in eight babies in the U.S. is born premature, and despite having access to excellent technology and medical staff, the U.S. has received a "D" grade for premature births! A premature birth is risky for the infant and can place great emotional and financial strain on families.
There are many ways to help this cause, but today I'm focusing on a quick and easy way you can help babies who are already patients in a NICU. If you have some old baby clothes or items laying around, please consider donating them to your local NICU!
Some of these babies have families who rarely visit them or they are going into foster care once they are healthy enough for discharge. That means they don't have their own clothes or developmental toys or swings. Luckily we have people who donate so we can give the baby personal clothing and they can have mobiles, soothing noise machines, etc. We also have volunteers who knit lovely blankets and hats for our babies, so it's a great way to put your creative talents to use for a worthy cause.
Any type of clothing, hats, or toys are great, but here is what is especially helpful:
- clothing that snaps completely open (so we can take clothing on/off without disconnecting IV lines)
- vibrating/bouncy chairs
- blankets so we can personalize their bedspace
The swings and chairs are a godsend for our babies who are withdrawing from prenatal drug exposure. These babies are understandably very irritable and uncomfortable and the rhythmic motion of the swing is calming to them. If these babies aren't happy, then no one on the unit is happy since it's just one big open room and once awake, they will cry continuously until someone can pacify them!
If you would like to donate some items, all you need to do is call your local NICU and I'm sure they'd be happy to receive your gently used donations.
To learn more about ways you can help, you can check out the other posts in my Prematurity Awareness Series.