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Entering the NICU

The Women’s Health Center is home to the NICU and has its own entrance and parking. Because the NICU is a secure environment, you will need to ring the doorbell to request access.

When Your Baby is Admitted

Babies born prematurely, ill or with special needs are usually admitted to the NICU, with intensive care beginning the moment you deliver. It is not unusual for a neonatologist and NICU nurse to be present at birth to provide immediate care to help your infant make the transition to life outside the womb. Birth can be stressful for your baby. Immediately he/she goes from being supported by your body to breathing air independently. The heart and blood vessels go through dramatic changes, and the baby must adapt to life without help from your body.

After delivery, your baby is placed under an overhead warmer, dried off with warm blankets and given an APGAR score. The score ranges from 0-10 and indicates how well he/she is adjusting to the immediate changes outside the womb.

Babies grow at different rates in the womb so it is important to determine your infant’s gestational age in weeks. A full term baby is born between 37 and 42 weeks gestation. Babies born before 37 weeks are considered premature or preterm. The younger your baby’s gestational age, the more help he/she may need in the delivery room and in the NICU.

Many premature babies are not entirely ready for life outside the womb. Their organs are immature and may not yet be working at their best. They often need extra oxygen to breathe, and may even need a breathing tube and ventilator (a machine that breathes for the baby). Once stabilized, your baby will be transferred to the NICU.

What to Expect

At Rush Copley we strive for a calm, quiet environment. Everyone working and visiting in the unit is encouraged to use a soft voice because noise can be very disturbing to sick and premature infants. Lighting is also carefully controlled for the babies’ comfort.

Upon admission, your newborn is weighed, measured and placed on an intensive care bed under a warmer. We will closely monitor how he/she breathes. Respiratory distress is the number one problem for preemies and occurs because their lungs are stiff and not fully mature.

Visiting, Security and Infection Control

For the safety and security of your infant, the NICU is a locked unit. Parents must always have their ID bands with them when visiting. Although we try to recognize all our parents, at times we may ask to see your ID band. If your baby was admitted from an outside facility, we may ask you for picture identification as well. This is to ensure the safety of your baby, as well as the other infants in the NICU.

To allow for the nurses and doctors to immediately respond to the needs of your baby, only two people at a time are allowed at your baby's bedside during a visit (for example, mom and grandma, or dad and grandpa). In an effort to prevent infection, a maximum of four visitors can be chosen by the parent(s) to visit their baby in the NICU. Although the four people are usually grandparents, we recognize that families are made up differently.  If grandparents are not able to visit the baby in the NICU, a parent may request a different family member or support person to take the place of one of the four grandparent spots. All visitors are photographed and a copy of their state ID/driver's license is taken. This list is set upon your baby's admission and does not change throughout the stay.

Parents will be asked to accompany each visitor to the NICU to identify them when they visit. You may be asked to sign in and out of the NICU every time you come to see your baby. To maintain your privacy, and the security of your baby, a parent will need to accompany a Grandparent/visitor each time they enter the NICU. During a visit, the parents may rotate which visitor they bring in and rotate between the four visitors during the same visit. While a visitor is at the baby's bedside with a parent, the other parent and three visitors are welcome to wait in the comfort of our family area near the Women's Health entrance.

All visitors must thoroughly wash their hands upon entering the NICU; it is the most effective way to minimize the risk of infection to our vulnerable patients. It is vital, as well, that visitors be free from any illness and not exposed to any contagious disease such as chicken pox, which can be extremely dangerous to babies in the NICU.

While visiting, we encourage you to make yourself as comfortable as possible.  Reading materials and personal sound systems with a head set for listening to music and/or books are welcome.  No food or drink is allowed in the NICU.

Staying Informed

Parents are welcome to enjoy Family Time with their baby in the NICU 24 hours a day, except for nursing shift changes.  We also appreciate your cooperation if at times we ask you to step outside the NICU during extremely busy times of handling a critically ill newborn.

You may call the unit at any time, 630-978-6295, to check on the status of your child and we offer a parent information line which you, your family and friends can use to check on the condition of your baby.  Parents may opt to create a secure webpage for their baby.  CaringBridge are pages of text and/or pictures that parents can create on the web, to let their family know how their baby is doing or provide updates.  Parents can also borrow laptops from the hospital to create these pages while they are in the NICU visiting their baby!