In Quebec, there are 6 neonatal intensive care units (NICU).
Your premature baby may need to be hospitalized in a neonatal unit or a nursery. Some premature babies born close to term will be admitted to a hospital nursery whereas others who require more specialized care will receive treatment in a neonatal unit.
The stay in a neonatal unit varies in lengths for most preemies. At birth, although the baby's body is fully formed, its size and wight may be insufficient.
Furthermore, certain organs may still not have fully developed and may not yet function efficiently. That may lead to certain complications.
Luckily, you can count on your doctor and the entire nursing staff who will provide you with the relevant information concerning your baby's health daily. Do not hesitate to ask questions. It is perfectly normal to reformulate the same questions repeatedly and there is no such thing as a wrong question! Fatigue and stress will hinder your ability to retain information. Give yourself a break and give yourself some time. After all, you’ve been plunged into a whole new world!
Several caregivers may be called upon to provide care to your child during his or her stay in the NICU. Remember that there is a close collaboration between the different caregivers. It is essentially teamwork. To provide high-quality neonatal care, two essential elements are required: cutting-edge medical acre and human relations. Every member of the medical staff has an important role to play.
They are on hand to provide care to your child day and night. The NICU resembles a beehive in which each member plays a crucial role and the parents are also members of the hive.
You will probably meet many of these professionals when you are with your baby; here is a list of healthcare professionals who may work in a neonatal unit:
- Neonatalogist: A pediatrician who received additional specialized training to dispense advanced care to sick or premature newborns.
- Head Nurse (Unit head): A nurse who is responsible for managing the staff’s work in the neonatal unit.
- Assistant Head Nurse: A nurse who coordinates and supervises all the care provided to the sick babies.
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner: An experienced neonatal nurse who has an advanced training (Master's degree) in medical sciences. The nurse can take care of premature newborns from birth to their hospital discharge. They can prescribe diagnostic tests, treatments, and medications, and can also perform more invasive procedures.
- Neonatal Nurse: A nurse who received specialized training to care for sick and premature newborns.
- Pediatrician: A general practitioner who received additional specialized training to care for sick children.
- Resident: A physician who received training in general medicine and is currently enrolled in a specialist internship (pediatrics, cardiology, etc.).
- Fellow: A medical specialist who is enrolled in ongoing specialized training over a period of several years.
- Psychologist: A professional trained in human behavior and development who can help parents to deal with the current crisis they are living.
- Social worker: A professional trained to help families better cope with the emotions conjured up by a sick baby and to help find resources (financial, social, etc.) to meet the family needs.
- Respiratory Therapist: A healthcare professional with specialized training in the respiratory system and various devices used in this field.
- Laboratory Technician: A healthcare professional specializes in blood and other biological fluids (urine, secretions, etc.) sampling and analysis methods.
- Certified Lactation Consultant: a healthcare professional trained to meet the needs of the mother and her breastfed baby. She prevents, identifies, and resolves problems that may arise during breastfeeding: expressing breast milk, maintaining milk production, latching on. Also called IBCLC.
- Occupational Therapist: A healthcare professional trained to assist patient accomplish task relating to normal developmental (use of arms, hands, mouth, and tongue) to adapt to daily life.
- Physiotherapist: A healthcare professional who works on patient’s neuromuscular development. He or she may also monitor motor development care.
- Hospital Pharmacist: a pharmacist who works closely with the multidisciplinary team to ensure the optimal management and use of medications administered to patients. They may meet with parents during hospitalization, among other things, to verify that the medications taken by the mother are safe for breastfed baby.