Nurses In The Special Care Nursery Create A Safe, Nurturing Environment For Newborns And Parents

Jolene Avery, RN
Special Care Nursery, Candler Hospital

Smart Living: Some infants who are born prematurely, have low birth weight or other difficulties are cared for in the  Special Care Nursery. What can parents expect if their newborn needs to be treated there?

Jolene Avery: Nurses in the Special Care Nursery work together to create a safe and nurturing environment for the newborns and their families. We want the parents who can’t be there all the time to know that their child is being well taken care of and is in a safe, loving place.
SL: Where do the babies sleep?
JA: The premature babies are really supposed to be in mommy’s belly, so we keep them in a warm, protective environment of a special kind of incubator called an Isolette. The Isolette controls the temperature and humidity surrounding the child and helps protect them from cold, noise, and infection. The top of the incubator is clear plastic with portholes. This allows parents to touch their child and gives nurses access to the baby without disturbing the special environment created for the baby.
The Isolettes can be covered to block out light when the babies need rest. We also have special earmuffs for the babies who need them to block out noise.
SL: So parents are able to interact with their child?
JA: Yes, we try to make sure the babies have skin-to-skin bonding experiences, but we have to do it at certain times, such as when the baby is feeding. For example, when an infant is being tube-fed, we try to create a skin-to-skin experience where the child can hear mommy’s or daddy’s heartbeat. But then the child needs to return back to the Isolette to rest, digest, and grow, as it would normally be doing in mommy’s belly.
SL: How else do the nurses help the parents when their baby is in the Special Care Nursery?
JA: We are there not only to provide education but comfort as well. Of course we always let parents know what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and what equipment is necessary. At the same time, we are teaching them how to take care of their newborn.
We also comfort the parents when a setback occurs. For example, if a baby was feeding himself well from the bottle but then for some reason needed to be tube-fed, that could delay discharge. We talk the parents through these setbacks and then focus on how to move forward and get their baby home as soon as possible.
Parents are allowed to visit the Special Care Nursery at any time and for however long they want. We have “rooming-in” rooms for parents whose newborn is close to discharge, where they can actually stay in the nursery with them. At times we can provide those rooms to out-of-town parents as well. We always try to meet the needs of the parents as we give their newborn the highest-quality medical care. 

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