Babies are usually moved from the delivery room to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) when they are somewhat stabilized. They may be moved on a radiant warmer, in an incubator, or they may be wrapped in a warm blanket and carried by hospital staff.
Once your baby is in the NICU, the NICU staff:
- examines your baby to make sure her condition is stable and that she is breathing well and getting enough oxygen;
- obtains samples of blood for laboratory testing;
- starts intravenous (IV) fluids to give the baby a constant supply of fluids and nutrients;
- performs a chest x-ray if your baby is having trouble breathing or needs extra oxygen; and
- administers routine treatments that all babies receive, including an injection of vitamin K to prevent bleeding problems and administration of antibiotic ointment in the eyes to prevent infection (this is sometimes done in the delivery room, before coming to the NICU).
You and your family probably will not be allowed in the NICU during this busy time. This is not meant to exclude you or to keep information from you. Rather, it's done so that the NICU staff can complete these procedures quickly and make sure that your baby gets everything that he or she needs.
Within about 60 to 90 minutes, however, the NICU team should meet with you and give you an update on your baby's condition and discuss any necessary procedures. You will probably receive more information than you can remember, but don't worry. You will have many opportunities to talk further with staff, ask questions, and get updates on your baby's condition.