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How to Help a NICU Parent | What They Need the Most

November 17, 2016

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Do you know someone who has delivered a premature baby? A premature birth is a birth that takes place more than three weeks before the baby is due. Many new parents have babies much, much earlier than this that requires their baby to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) until they are well enough to go home with their parents.

As you can imagine, for parents who have babies who need NICU help, this time can be overwhelming, trying and exhausting. In this article, we want to give you tips on how you can help a NICU parent.

Don’t wait for them to ask for help

Many NICU moms find themselves in a tough situation – they’ve had their baby, but their baby is not home with them yet. Customarily, people begin bringing meals, offer to babysit or clean their home to families who bring home a new baby. And although NICU families have had a baby, and the baby is still in the hospital, this is the time that they need your help more than ever.

If you just had a baby, can you imagine spending time away from them? NICU families have to juggle between being home and at the hospital while the baby’s health improves. So, this is a great time to think about how you can help them juggle that task easier. And, the last thing these parents will do is inconvenience anyone else by asking for help.

So… you offer to help them instead.

Meals are a great way to start. With being away from home so much, take-out food loses its appeal fast. Drop by homemade meals or even freezer meals that NICU families can eat when they are home. Make your friend a lunch kit filled with apple slices, trail mix, a bottled water and a cheese stick. This is portable enough that she can keep it in her purse and eat it when she has a quick minute or two.

Be specific

When you offer to help, don’t ask, tell. Call or message them to say:

“I am dropping by your favorite drink and treat- are you at the hospital or home?”

“I am running to the store to pick up some groceries. When can I drop off some fresh fruit and bread?”

“I have time open between 12:00-2:30pm today, what can I do to help you?”

The more specific you are, the easier it is for NICU families to accept your help.

Offer emotional support

Send NICU families as much emotional support as you can. Whether that is to offer up words of encouragement in a note, texting them a hopeful quote or telling them that they are in their thoughts and prayers can do wonders for their spirit. Even just letting them vent to you about all of their trials can take a lot of stress off their shoulders.

Be their driver

Many new moms are unable to drive for up to six weeks. If this is your NICU family friend than offer to be their chauffeur. Tell them what day(s) you are available to give them a lift to the hospital. You can even offer to stay with them or pick them up at a specific time. Not only will this allow the mom to be with their baby, it will offer you time to talk about how they are doing.

Even more than the above points are to be compassionate and loving. Knowing that they have your love and support will help them get through this trying time a bit easier.

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