Extra Special Care for our Tiniest Patients

One of the most exciting family events is the birth of a newborn. A lot of preparation takes place in the months leading up to the big day. In the vast majority of cases, mothers deliver at term and mom and baby are home in one to three days. However, despite meticulous planning, unexpected issues may surface. Even in the healthiest of pregnancies, emergencies arise. The CDC reports that in the United States 8% of infants are born with low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds), and 9.6% are delivered prematurely (before 37 weeks gestation).

baby girl in a neonatal isolette

Our 16 bed neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is staffed by board-certified neonatologists, who are pediatricians who have gone through additional years of training. Theses subspecialists are able to care for both well and very critically ill newborns. These physicians are available 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.

The Portneuf NICU is also staffed by neonatal nurses, respiratory therapists, dietitians, speech, occupational and physical therapists, pharmacists, social workers and case managers. Collectively our team has over 300 years combined experience to staff the unit. Our interdisciplinary team approach to care is beneficial for our tiniest patients. Additionally, our neonatal flight team is available 24 hours a day to transport babies.

An expectant mother may have factors that would categorize her as a high risk pregnancy - a family history that passes on an inheritable trait or disorder, an existing medical condition, a lifestyle habit (alcohol use, smoking, substance abuse/misuse), age over 35, multiple births, pregnancy–induced hypertension, gestational diabetes mellitus, obesity. If a mother has a high risk pregnancy, it may be reasonable for her to have a conversation with her obstetrician or delivery provider about visiting the NICU. At which time, she can have a conversation with a neonatologist to discuss her concerns and/or expectations.

Planning ahead can make the birth experience a truly special occasion.

Reasons for admission to the NICU:

  • Preterm infants less than 35 weeks
  • Respiratory distress requiring intervention
  • Chorioamnionitis
  • Suspected sepsis
  • Intrauterine viral infections requiring monitoring/treatment
  • Intrauterine TORCHES infection
  • NAS (neonatal abstinence scoring) requiring treatment
  • Hypoglycemia requiring IV therapy
  • Infants who require prolonged resuscitation
  • Newborns with cord pH less than 7
  • Hyperbilirubinemia requiring intensive phototherapy, IV hydration, possible exchange transfusion
  • Feeding problems
  • Hematologic abnormalities requiring monitoring/treatment
  • Subgaleal hemorrhage
  • Seizures
  • Newborns requiring palliative care who cannot remain in labor and delivery

Patient and families in our NICU

We are dedicated to a family-centered care approach. Parents are encouraged to be part of the care team. Our unit allows for privacy in breast feeding as infants are able and skin to skin are often referred to as kangaroo care.

The NICU is closed to visitors each day at the following times:
6:45am – 7:15am (Nurse’s report)
12:00noon – 1:30pm (Quiet time)
6:45pm – 7:15pm (Nurse’s report)

We have the following guidelines in place

Hand Washing

For your baby’s protection it is very important to wash your hands and forearms before you visit your baby. The nurse will instruct you in the procedure on your first visit. Good handwashing is very important to help prevent the spread of infections.

Feeding Your Baby

Even if your baby is in NICU, mothers are welcome to breastfeed. Your baby may not tolerate feedings for a while, so you will need to start pumping and saving your milk. Please talk to your nurse about getting started with a breast pump and the proper care and storage of your breast milk.

Taking Care of Yourself

We realize that this is a very stressful situation for you and your family. We want to remind you to take care of yourself. Eat regular meals, get plenty of rest. Meals are available in the Portneuf Grille or vending machines, both located on the ground floor.

Social Services

Babies, especially ill or premature babies, may have many different needs. Portneuf’s Social Services discharge planning staff are available to all parents. They will be glad to assist you with questions about insurance, billing, and help you in qualifying for any assistance that may be available to you, as well as providing emotional support. Portneuf also has a list of motels that offer reduced rates to families of patients.

Visiting Your Baby

Please visit your baby often. We ask that there be no more than three visitors at the bedside at any given time. Parents may visit anytime. Other visitors must be accompanied by a parent. No Children are allowed to visit in the NICU.

Gift Ideas for Your Baby

  • Recordings that have familiar voices and soothing music
  • Small stuffed animals
  • Booties
  • Music boxes

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