What Happens Inside an NICU?

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Many things need to be done after your little one is born. For instance, certain vaccines are provided right after birth as per the National Immunisation Schedule. The first dose of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) is provided right at birth. Next, within 24 hours of birth, the child receives the first shot of the Hepatitis B vaccine. After that, the immunisation schedule is followed to give the remaining vaccines to the baby as he/she grows. Vaccination helps reduce the baby’s risks of developing a disease by improving the body’s natural defence mechanism in advance.

However, babies are often born with certain health problems or other issues. In these cases, they are admitted to the NICU. Let’s learn about it below.

What Happens in the NICU?

Specialised treatment is given to sick newborns in a neonatal intensive care unit. They are usually admitted to it within 24 hours after they are born. How long they need to stay in the unit depends on their health condition. The NICU houses medical staff who are especially trained in advanced equipment and neonatal care to treat newborns.

Various healthcare providers work here. They include doctors ranging from neonatologists to paediatric specialists. Besides them, you will find nurses constantly taking care of the admitted babies.

Level-III NICU has state-of-the-art equipment including advanced incubators and monitoring facilities for good neonatal care. More critical cases are handled in an isolation NICU.

Blood gas analysers and experienced technicians facilitate ventilator management of neonates who need breathing support. Usually, infant phototherapy units and radiant warmers that have inbuilt safety features are also found as other state-of-the-art technology.

When Is Neonatal Intensive Care Needed?

You may have to admit your baby to the neonatal intensive care unit due to the following maternal factors:

Age more than 40 or less than 16

Twins or multiple pregnancies

Premature rupture of the amniotic sac or membranes

Too much or too little amniotic fluid

Bleeding

Sexually transmitted diseases

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Drug or alcohol use

Diabetes

A baby may be needed to be admitted to the NICU due to the following delivery factors:

Breech position (where the baby’s buttocks are delivered before) or other unexpected positions

Birth asphyxia or foetal distress (changes in the organ systems of the baby from insufficient oxygen)

Nuchal cord (when the umbilical cord is wrapped around the neck of the baby)

Meconium (when the first stool of the baby passes into your amniotic fluid during pregnancy)

A C-section surgery

Below are certain conditions of babies that call for neonatal care:

Too small for gestational age

Birth weight less than 2,500 g or over 4,000 g

Baby born at a gestational age of under 37 weeks or above 42 weeks

Resuscitation or medicine in the delivery room

Birth defects

Seizures

Infections like group B streptococcus, herpes or chlamydia

Respiratory problems like apnea (stopping to breathe), rapid breathing or grunting

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Need for special treatment or procedures such as a blood transfusion

Requirement for oxygen, medicines, intravenous (IV) therapy or additional monitoring

The diseases that occur at birth are not the only ones that your child can develop. To protect him/her from preventable diseases that your child can develop over time, ensure that he receives the right vaccines at the right ages as per the immunisation schedule.

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