The world is already full of challenges for newborns, but when a baby is born prematurely, which is before 37 weeks, they are especially vulnerable because the organs and systems in their bodies, such as lungs, immune system, digestive system and skin, may not be fully developed. This can lead to life-threatening complications if newborns don’t have the right care.
Even when a baby is born full term, meaning they stayed inside mom for 39 weeks or longer, they sometimes face complications. Babies have to learn new skills, such as breathing, suckling and signaling they’re hungry. If a baby is not learning these things or gets sick right after birth, they can also spend time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Stormont Vail’s Neonatal Intensive Care team provides special care that helps premature or sick newborns get the best possible start to life. If you live in the outlying community, we have specially trained neonatal nurses who can help transfer babies.
Neonatal Intensive Care at Stormont Vail Health
Stormont Vail’s award-winning Neonatal Intensive Care Unit blends advanced medical technologies with private, quiet, light-controlled environments to enhance your little one’s ability to thrive. Families can stay bedside with their babies 24 hours a day.
Our dedicated and experienced providers include neonatologists, nurse practitioners, nurses and social workers who take a team approach to make sure your baby is cared for around the clock. Our care includes:
- Monitoring your baby’s vital signs, such as pulse, temperature, breathing, and blood pressure
- Administering medications
- Providing comfort
- Making sure your baby has proper nutrition to grow
We work with new parents and provide education on how to take care of their baby at home. When your baby is ready to leave the hospital, we continue to support parents during follow-up appointments.
We also have the High-Risk Follow Up Clinic for graduates of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to ensure our graduates are on target to reach physical and developmental milestones.
Conditions We Treat
Premature BirthDelivery before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy is considered a premature birth. A series of crucial developments happen in the final stage of pregnancy, so premature babies may not be ready to thrive independently. The risk of having medical complications increases because their bodies are not developed enough to function. They could have challenges, such as:
- Breathing difficulty
- Feeding difficulty
- Low birth weight
- Vision and hearing problems
- Heart failure
- A swollen belly or diarrhea
Respiratory Distress in NewbornsThis occurs in babies whose lungs are not fully developed and causes breathing difficulties.
Premature birth is the leading cause of respiratory distress, but some other factors can cause this condition as well, including:
- The mother having diabetes
- Multiple pregnancy of twins, triplets, or more
- Reduced blood flow to baby during delivery
Sepsis or InfectionAn infection can happen during the pregnancy, during the delivery, or after birth. Sepsis in newborns is a blood infection. It can occur between the first week of life and 3 months of age.
Sepsis that develops within 24 hours of birth is called early onset sepsis. A newborn typically gets this infection from their mother before or during labor.
Some factors can increase the chance of a sepsis infection, such as Group B streptococcus (GBS) – a type of bacterial infection that can occur during pregnancy.
Premature babies also have a weaker immune system, which can easily make them vulnerable to bacteria.
Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)This condition is the most common metabolic problem in infants. It occurs when the newborn’s blood sugar is lower than normal. This can cause damage to the baby’s neurological system (the brain and central nervous system), leading to seizures, developmental delays, and personality disorders.
Low Birth WeightIf your baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces, they are considered low birth weight. Not all low birth weight newborns have medical concerns, and some smaller babies are actually healthy, especially if they were carried to full term. But if your baby’s low birth weight is a result of premature birth or growth restriction, it may become a problem.
Our Treatment & Services
From respiratory assistance to feeding tools, we are equipped to provide care customized for each newborn. Our neonatal intensive care services include:
Endotracheal TubesThis tube can deliver warm, humidified air to help a baby breathe.
VentilatorThis machine controls the amount of oxygen, air pressure, and number of breaths.
Intravenous LinesFor premature babies who can’t digest properly, an IV carries nutrients to the baby’s bloodstream.
IncubatorThis special crib keeps your baby warm and protected from germs.
Resources for New Parents
Family support is a critical part of helping a newborn baby become healthy. We understand that when your newborn is in intensive care, you may not want to leave for even a minute.
We accommodate parents and families and provide various types of support, including:
- Flexible visiting hours for family
- Sleep rooms for families of critical patients
- Sleep rooms for families to stay with their infant overnight prior to going home
- March of Dimes NIC Family Support Program
- Customized Baby Care Education Classes
- Parent Lounge (a break room for connecting with other parents)
- Grief and loss support
March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program
This program is designed to improve the quality of the NICU experience. It provides education to parents before, during and after a hospital stay. Parents can learn how to care for their baby while in intensive care and at home, including skin-to-skin contact, nutrition and development monitoring.They also provide a monthly calendar of events for parents, including holiday celebrations for Halloween and Christmas.
Customized Baby Care Education Classes
Our classes are taught by experienced registered nurses. Parents will learn parenting skills that benefit a baby’s development. Topics include:
- General baby care
- Safe sleep
- Infant feeding practices
- Car seat safety
We offer additional customized classes based on each family’s needs, such as medication administration training, medical equipment training, and other educational needs that are necessary for families to care for their children at home.
Ronald McDonald House
If you live outside of Shawnee County and your baby is being treated at Stormont Vail, Ronald McDonald House provides a comfortable and convenient second home for parents to stay close by.
For postpartum mothers staying at Ronald McDonald House, Stormont Vail provides safe transportation to and from the hospital.
For High-Risk Expectant Mothers
We are happy to meet with your family to discuss your desires for delivery as well as what to expect after delivery. Our goal is to prepare you for what you will experience and ease your anxiety. Before delivery, we can schedule a tour to visit the neonatal intensive care area and help you understand the different types of equipment your baby may need.
Before your baby is ready for breastfeeding, you may want to use a pump to stimulate breast milk production. We are happy to explain the advantages and limitations of each type of pump. You are welcome to use our private pump room or pump your milk by your baby’s side. After you are done, you can store your milk in the NIC freezer. We will provide bottles labeled with your name, date, medications and the time of milk collection. If you have questions, our NIC breastfeeding staff will assist you.
Anytime. You are welcome at the bedside with your newborn 24 hours a day.
Parents are asked not to call into the unit from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 7p.m. to 8 p.m.
Visiting hours are: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.and 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Siblings must be 3 or older, and other visitors must be at least 16 years old. All visitors must be accompanied by a parent of the baby.
We may alter our visitation policy during peak flu season to minimize the risk of infection for our newborns.
All visitors will need to present a photo ID that includes a birth date.
Prior to entering the unit, all visitors will be screened using an NIC “visitors screening from.” The form will be reviewed and approved by an associate, and signed by a parent. If you showed signs or symptoms of illness, or your temperature equals or exceeds 99.5F, you will not be allowed to enter the unit for the baby’s safety.
Meet Our Neonatologists and Providers
We provide full interdisciplinary care to families and their babies at Neonatal Intensive Care. This team consists of:
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioners
- Neonatal Nurses
- Respiratory Therapists
- Lactation Consultants
- Neonatal Dietitian
- Social Workers
- Occupational Therapists
- Speech Language Pathologists
- Spiritual Care Providers