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This time last year I had a daughter in the NICU and every day was a struggle. I thought wouldn’t it be nice if this time last year I had some tips that would have helped me during my 162 stay in the NICU with my preemie daughter? The answer is YES!
So that is why for the next 5 days, I’m going to share with you tips and resources for surviving the NICU. They are full of helpful and easy ways to care for yourself and your premature baby in the NICU that worked for me.
Being a new mom is hard
But when you are a new mom to a baby who is transferred to the NICU it takes on a whole new feeling.
As a NICU mom, you are faced with stress, anxiety, anger, sadness, grief, and so many more emotions. You’re vulnerable and need extra care during this journey with your baby who is in the NICU.
As a mom of a preemie, I know how difficult this journey can be. Each day you are faced with the unknown and multiple challenges. I also know how you put all the care in your baby and take the least amount of care of yourself. Self-care is probably the last thought you have as the main priority is your baby.
I will tell you first hand that in order to give your baby in the NICU the best care they need is to make sure you are taking the proper care of yourself. It’s hard to leave your babies bedside but they are in good hands. Allow yourself the opportunity now to get healed from your delivery and the time you need to feel more like yourself.
Since I’m a former NICU mom who spent months alongside my daughter I’ve gathered 6 self-care tips for the new NICU mom.
1. Support Group
I couldn’t have survived the months in the NICU without my support group by my side. Your NICU may provide opportunities where you can connect with other NICU mom’s.
The NICU my daughter was in provided luncheons once a week where you could connect with someone who is going through a similar situation as yourself.
There are also several groups on Facebook for preemie mom’s where it’s an open forum and you can connect with fellow NICU mom’s who are currently going through this journey or who went through this.
Lean on your loved ones and friends. If someone offers to help support you in some way take them up on the offer. Don’t feel obligated to take on this difficult journey alone.
2. Allow yourself time away from the bedside
I spent the majority of the time next to my daughter’s bedside for months. when visiting her I never wanted to leave as I didn’t want to miss anything.
Was that healthy? No, it wasn’t. As I needed to take care of myself and I needed to allow myself breaks.
At the beginning of this journey the thought of leaving the bedside is scary and can overcome you with guilt. Try to get acquainted with the monitors, equipment, and nurses.
Once you have a better understanding of them and get to know the nurses you will more comfortable leaving the bedside. Also, know you can call and check on your baby as often as you need to.
Don’t pressure yourself that because you are getting out you are now obligated to attend everything you’re invited to. Do small things like lunch with a friend, coffee, dinner, or a trip to Target. Allow yourself little breaks away from the bedside at times.
I promise the breaks away are good for you and allow you to feel more like yourself and will help lower your stress and anxiety level.
3. Schedule a nail appointment
A great idea to allow yourself a break from the NICU is to schedule a mani/pedi appointment.
You deserve pampering during this difficult time. Self-care is good for you, after all, you just had a baby and now you’re watching your baby be hooked up to monitors and equipment in the NICU. Self-care is highly important for the new NICU mom.
4. Be sure to treat yourself
Find a small way to treat yourself each week as you deserve it. I defiantly took part in this and what I would do each week is get myself my favorite coffee either on the way to the hospital or on the way home.
It was nice to have something I enjoyed each week and it like a great treat. Treating yourself is perfect self-care.
This is one of my favorite hobbies. Sleeping. And one I miss so much since bringing home my NICU baby a few months ago.
With a baby in the NICU, I know sleep is probably your last concern but it’s important to take care of yourself. Sleep is important and without it, you may end up making this journey harder or get yourself sick.
If you need to schedule your sleep to ensure someone is at your babies bedside then do it.
6. Have a hobby
If before you found yourself with a baby in the NICU you enjoyed reading, cooking, binge watching tv, drawing, yoga or whatever your hobbies were, be sure to continue it.
You will need hobbies to get your mind off of the stress your going through. If you enjoy reading bring a book with you to the bedside or read on your phone to your baby.
Don’t feel like you have to give everything up as you need to take care of yourself. If watching one of your favorite tv shows for an hour or two a day improves your mood for the day then continue it.
You are just as important as your baby in the NICU at this time.
Remember as new NICU mom you are not alone in this journey. Also, remember that you are just as important and your self-care is vital during this emotional NICU journey. Ensure you are taking the proper care of yourself so in the end, you can care for your baby.