I was talking to my friend last week and she mentioned a call from her home-health nurse. I was confused. My friend’s baby (a 34 week preemie) is 3 months old. Did the baby still have a home-health nurse like Jax did when he was small?
“No,” she said, “the nurse was calling to see how I was doing! Didn’t you have a nurse follow-up with you after Jax was born?”
Ummm…no? And then I realized, I never had a follow-up exam after Jax was born. I never took a postpartum depression survey. I never got a follow-up call from anyone checking to see how I was doing.
I slipped through the cracks.
Wait a second! Not only did I miss out on my entire third trimester and a “normal” birth and newborn experience, I also missed out on the basic follow-up care every new mom deserves!
I needed that follow-up care more than most moms, I think. As a first-time mom with an extremely premature baby, I was at an extraordinarily high risk for postpartum depression and other issues.
It’s easy to forget to take care of your self when you have a tiny newborn that is very sick and in the hospital. And logistically, it’s difficult to get postnatal care when you’re spending all your extra time in a NICU, especially if that NICU is hours away from home.
And then, it dawned on me – I actually got some of the best postpartum care I could have ever asked for! It just looked a little different than the “normal” care that most women get.
- Jax’s bedside nurses were doing more than just taking care of Jax. They were also keeping an eye on me for symptoms of postpartum depression and PTSD.
- I had access to the hospital Social Worker. I delivered far away from home – I was scared and in a strange place. The social worker sat with me and talked with me and helped me process everything that had happened.
- Lactation Consultants gave me three months of on-demand breastfeeding / pumping support. They gave me information about nutrition and rest that helped my body heal from delivery. They gave me tips and tricks to help with pumping breast milk for my premature baby in the NICU.
- The Chaplain often dropped by to talk about “things.” I am not a traditionally religious person, so I was uncomfortable with this at first. But together we quickly discovered that my “religion” was nature and she helped me channel the outdoors even when I was cooped up in a hospital room all day.
- Financial Services helped me navigate the tricky waters of being able to afford our million-dollar baby and helped put me in touch with resources that could help ease our burden and lessen our stress levels so we could focus on our son.
There was so much support available to help me recover after delivering my preemie. I’m grateful that Jax’s NICU care team was there to also help take care of me!
NICU and preemie moms, what type of follow-up care did you receive? What are some tips for getting follow-up care after the birth of a small or sick baby?
11 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Postpartum Follow-Up Care for NICU Moms”
This is SO important. After such a traumatic experience micropreemie moms require even more postpartum care than moms of a more typical experience. I participated in an study for emotional recovery which was fantastic because I got to talk to someone weekly for 9 weeks. I think from that experience I would say we need someone floating around in the NICU like LCs who check in with the parents at least once a week. I would also highly, highly recommend parents go to counseling either during the NICU stay or at least after discharge when things are calmer at home. What we’ve gone through is a trauma and deserves time and caring to heal from.
That’s awesome that you got to participate in the study! How did you get involved with that? I’ve always thought we should participate in studies, but I never know where to look to get started. Your idea about a floating support person in the NICU is a good one! I think the Social Workers in our hospitals fullfilled this role, but they were stretched so thin, they didn’t have time to really focus on one family for a period of time.
It was a study that they had started two years back at our hospital specifically and we were the last to squeeze in! We were also the last to squeeze into the NICU before the reached capacity that day too! (V is way too much a “cut it close” kind of guy I’m noticing! 😉 ) Ya I think most hospitals have SW in that role. It’s to bad that the services rarely meet the parents’ needs though for whatver reason. We only saw our social worker once in the entire 3.5 months we were there! Not good.
Wow – that’s amazing; V really does keep you on your toes! 🙂 I think it’s so great you got that level of support. I agree that the SW were not able to meet the needs of parents in the NICU. There were only 2 SWs and they were responsible for the entire (HUGE) hospital – not just the NICU. It was definitely not enough!
I have the opportunity to do “Parent Rounding” where I could go talk to parents currently in the NICU. I think this would be beneficial to them, but I’m not entirely sure I’m ready to be back in the “trenches” yet, you know?
I had a home health visit for me about a week after I gave birth. My insurance provides this and the hospital provided my info to a nurse who called me and set it up. I had a c-section and I welcomed having someone else look at my incision. For the same reason I was really proactive about scheduling my followup with my doctor.
I’m so glad you had the follow-up care you needed! I think for me, I looked fine on the outside (no c-section, no pre-eclampsia, no HELLP, etc) so everyone thought I was doing fine even emotionally, too.
Thank you for this post! We truly felt so blessed to have all of the support while our twin boys were in the NICU (27 weekers, 1lb 4oz and 1lb 15oz). So I love that perspective about the post-partum care and couldn’t agree more, while we were at the hospital. AFTER the hospital has been another story. What types of support did you have that mirrored that of the hospital stay, if any? Did you wish you had it? What types of help and support specifically? Thank you again for the post!
Sonja – congrats on your twin boys! You raise some good points. When Jax came home from the NICU, we had a home health nurse who came every week to see how we were doing. She was an incredible source of support for me – I do not know how I would have made it through those first few months without her! I also saw a counselor, although I think I went too soon to really benefit from it. I think I was still basically in shock and in adrenaline mode. Now that more time has passed, I feel like I could benefit more from some professional help. I wish I would have had some structured help (i.e. something specifically for me from my doctor) after we came home, though.
Awww…shucks! Thanks – this is an awesome honor. I just read your post. I’l be answering your questions soon. 🙂
Ha ha not a problem. Mines a looooong post! Take your time with it though there’s no rush. Can’t wait to read your post x