After the initial shock wore off of my son, Dallas’ birth I began to worry about bonding with him. In my mind I knew that bonding the moment at birth was important but because he was a premature baby who was unable to breath on his own, he was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It was an hour before I could really “see” him for the first time. He was so small and helpless. All My husband and I could do was place our finger through the Isolette holes for our sons tiny hands to grasp onto. It broke my heart to know I couldn’t hold him close and to comfort him. As he became stronger we developed our own routine. I put together a list of the ways we created that special life long bond even when I wasn’t able to hold him.
How To Bond With Your Premature Baby In The NICU
Talk To Your Baby:
Talking to your baby whether by singing, reading a book or having a conversation in a calm quiet voice will offer a sense of comfort by letting them know that you are there. Your baby is used to hearing your voice from inside the womb so hearing it now might be able help stabilize him or her.
Be At Your Baby’s Bedside:
It’s important to be at your babies bedside as much as you can. Believe it or not you baby can actually sense when you’re there. You are their constant even when you come home, so it is important now that you continue the same routine even before they come home.
Being involved in your baby’s care time is a great way to create that special bond. This is a time where you can change your baby’s diaper, help in taking vitals, and participate in feeding your baby if it be by GI Tube, Bottle or Breast Feeding. You are your baby’s best health advocate so being involved in their medical care can give you a sense of control in a emotional roller coaster.
Offering your baby a finger to hold may be one of the first times you can physically touch your baby. As the time goes on you might be able to place your hands on your baby’s head and feet to simulate what it feels like to be in the womb.
Skin To Skin:
The first time Dave and I were able to hold Dallas was by Skin to Skin. Skin to Skin is where you lay your baby on your bare chest. The sound of your heartbeat is a familiar sound to them, and it has been medically proven that skin to skin helps a baby thrive in the NICU. This is also great for breast-feeding moms as it helps aide in milk production. Whenever I was having trouble with let down I would cuddle Dallas close. It worked like a charm, every time.
Decorate Your Babys Bed:
Decorating your baby’s Isolette with each milestone is a another great way to create that special bond. This is something my husband Dave loved doing. Dave worked long hours and because of this he had placed a picture inside Dallas’ Isolette to let know that Daddy was still “there”.
Write Letters To Your Baby:
I have a handful of letters that I have written Dallas that I plan to give to him on his 18th birthday. This is something you and your baby can look back on and it can also give you an outlet to express how you’re feeling at that moment.
Some Hospitals have a nifty little camera that can be placed above your baby’s bed that you or family members can view live online. This is a great opportunity for parents that can’t always be at their babys bed side. This is something I took advantage of one week while I was at home sick.
Get Ready For Home Coming:
As your baby’s NICU stay comes to end decorating the nursery, installing the car seat and any other last minute tasks can offer you a sense of “closer” to this long and emotional ride. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed at this time but it’s also a good rule of thumb to keep somewhat of the same routine with your baby at home. It will give you piece of mind and help your baby feel more comfortable.