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Imagine babies so tiny a wedding ring can fit around their arms. Often weighing less than a pound, these remarkably small and sick infants hold onto life hooked up to a maze of tubes and beeping monitors. Although no parent ever prepares for the high-tech environment of a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the reality is more than 500,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the United States. This number continues to rise due in part to older women having babies and the increase in multiple births. To prepare parents, UC San Diego Health System provides one-of-a- kind programs to help relieve stress and anxiety during this vulnerable time.
“No parent expects to have their infant in the NICU, but educating parents and families on this environment and the variety of helpful resources we offer throughout the pregnancy is key to being proactive should they deliver a sick or premature baby,” said Janet Hebert, nurse manager for UC San Diego Health System’s NICU.
Lauren Wood knows first hand what it’s like to spend time in the NICU. Her daughter, Payton, was born at 30 weeks, weighed just over three pounds and lived in UC San Diego Health System’s NICU for 56 days.
“Being in the NICU is like an emotional roller coaster. You have good days and bad days. My husband and I wrote in a journal every night to keep things in perspective and celebrate our baby’s milestones. It will also be something special for Payton to read one day,” said Wood.
Hebert offers these tips to parents:
For more information on UC San Diego Health System’s NICU, please visit: NICU
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