there is a comprehensive book that covers everything a parent could
ever need or want to know about having a baby in the NICU, Newborn
Intensive Care: What Every Parent Needs to Know is that book.
This book is amazing! It is nearly 500 pages long, with seventeen
chapters, five appendices, references, a table of abbreviations,
and a glossary. Including the author, there are fifteen contributors,
including three neonatal clinical nurse specialists, four neonatal
nurse practitioners, three professors, one lactation consultant,
one perinatal social worker and one neonatal discharge coordinator.
Kathleen Huggins, author of The
Nursing Mother's Companion, and Dr. William Sears, the author
Baby Book (among other books) both recommend this book.
of the things I noticed immediately when reading through this book
was the abundance of real photographs. This book is full of black
and white photographs of babies in the NICU: babies with tubes and
wires all over; babies in isolettes and open beds; babies being
gavage (tube) fed and learning to breastfeed; and more. I think
this is a strength of the book, as it gives parents a real life
glimpse of what life in the NICU really looks like. There is a photograph
of a two-year-old girl on page 364; the same little girl is shown
as a 29-week preemie weighing 1 pound 9 ounces on pages 62 and 117.
If seeing this happy, healthy, normal looking little girl at the
end of the book doesn't inspire hope, then I don't know what will!
Pages 118-119 even have life-size footprints of babies born at 25,
28, 32, 35 and 38 weeks. I had to get out my daughter's journal
and compare her footprints to those in the book, just out of curiosity.
(They were just a tad smaller than the footprints shown for a 32-weeker.
My daughter was a 31-weeker.)
book covers such topics as:
- NICU Players:
Working with the Team
in the NICU
- Typical Problems
of Preterm Babies and Other Sick Newborns
- Home at Last
It also covers
more difficult topics, such as "Major Medical Problems," "Neonatal
Surgery," and "Difficult Choices, Gentle Good-Byes." If I had had
this book while I was pregnant or when my daughter was in the NICU,
I would have tried not to read the scarier chapters, as they go into
great detail. I think the chapters on major problems and complications
are important to include, however, for parents who find themselves
facing such things with their own babies. Newborn
Intensive Care: What Every Parent Needs to Know contains far more
information than any one family could possibly need; therefore it
probably has everything that any particular family is searching for
The section on
typical problems of preemies is extremely thorough and discusses in
depth intravenous feeding, gavage feeding, and nipple feeding, both
by breast and by bottle. I learned that babies don't typically develop
the suck/swallow/breathing coordination until 32-34 weeks, and don't
have a mature form of the reflex until week 38, which helped me understand
why my 31-weeker had so many troubles learning to breastfeed.
The chapter entitled
"Parenting in the NICU" offers some tips to help you and your family
cope with the chaos and turbulence that can result from having a sick
or premature baby. It offers ideas on how to tell the siblings, ways
to involve the grandparents, and places to find support. I enjoyed
reading the sections about barriers to parenting in the NICU. Sometimes
distance is a factor, but other times there are more subtle issues,
such as a lack of privacy to have quiet family time, or feeling like
you have to 'play by the rules' and stay on the good side of the NICU
staff. As the book says, it's like being "a guest in the health care
providers' home." The authors suggest ways to help get around these
barriers by forming a partnership with the NICU nurses and teaches
ways to help open up the lines of communication with them. One parent
is quoted in the book as saying, "The nurses became our anchors. We
will never forget how they helped us get through the experience."
And that's true - the nurses can and will help you get through the
experience. It's nice to see a book discuss this, though - I never
read anything like this in any of my 'regular' pregnancy books.
are wonderful. They cover the following topics:
- Weights and
Measures: Conversion Charts
and Your Baby
- Car Seat Safety
- Parent Resources
They are as thorough
as everything else in the book, complete with illustrations as appropriate.
There are over 15 pages of resources for parents - information and
support organizations, books, magazines, videotapes and mail order
sources of information. I cannot say this enough - this book has an
abundance of helpful, supportive and useful information in it!
Intensive Care: What Every Parent Needs to Know is a terrific
book for any parent who is at risk of delivering a premature or sick
newborn, or who already has a child in the NICU. I know that my husband
and I would have benefited from having a book like this when our daughter
was in the NICU. Knowledge is power, and this is a rich source of
information. I regret that I didn't better inform myself about what
having a premature baby might entail, but I know that in the future,
should I get pregnant again, I will definitely keep this book on hand.
This is the most comprehensive book on the NICU that I have come across.
• Newborn Intensive Care: What Every Parent Needs to Know at Amazon.com