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I want to hear from mums of SCN/NICU bubs Rss

So I'm a nurse and about to start work next week in SCN and will eventually move to NICU when I have more experience and knowledge. I'd really like to hear from mums who have been through this - tell me a bit about your experience. What things did the nurses say or do that were particularly helpful for you and were there things nurses said or did that were upsetting? I know I will have a lot to learn but I'd appreciate hearing what it is like from the parents perspective. Thanks in advance!




Follow my blog "Bed Rest for Baby" at http://www.babysteps1804.wordpress.com

We were only in SCN for 6 nights when DD2 was 2 weeks old, and I spent the nights there too. All the nurses were fantastic in their own ways, but some were that bit more special.

To me, the ones I felt more comfortable with chatted to me about things in the outside world to give me something else to think about (like whats been happening on neighbours, or any interesting news), they listened to what I had to say & when I asked questions about my daughter they answered honestly & to as much depth as they could, or got the doctor to chat to me if it was something they werent sure on, they didnt forget that I had not long had a baby & needed to look after myself too & asked if I needed anything (because it is easy to forget about yourself), they helped me pick up my daughter when she had wires hanging off her & told me what all the machines did, they were warm & approachable, came & said goodbye at the end of their shift, told me everything I needed to know when we first came to the SCN, admired my baby with me, asked me how I was going emotionally & physically & were aware that I was on a hormonal rollercoaster, & emotionally sensitive.

Some things that werent so great, some of the nurses seemed to expect me to know how things were run in SCN, like their system of expressing/storing & heating up milk, & when I asked them how, they got huffy. A couple of them didnt seem to understand why I wasnt comfortable bathing my baby by myself (hard time recovering from cs) which I thought would be obvious. Sometimes they came across as bossy & abrupt & being sensitive, I often took it personally.

Hope that helped. Sorry if some doesnt make sense, I am deeply deprived of sleep lol
we visited SCN too with our first. He was premmie & had breathing problems & other complications when he was born, so was in a humidicrib for about 5/6 days sad

I honestly cant remember much about that time - i was so drained - i also nearly died during birth - very scary time for us. I think DS was 2 days old before i was really 'with it' & remember seeing him in the humidicrib & just sobbing. I had seen him before then, but i was so out of it, i dont really rememer. No-one told me anything - that got left up to DH - i didnt like that at all - it was like they had forgotten that i also had my own battle to stay alive before i even got to that point of being able to come to SCN & that i had no idea what had happened/what was happening with my baby & i couldnt hold him. No-one helped me with expressing or b/feeding when we got to that stage, it was like each shift change over just thought that the shift before had helped... they just pointed to the machine & said we need x amount of mls... it was very hard - I felt like a cow at milking time, i had no idea about when my baby shouldve been feeding, the nurse from the wards just put me in a wheelchair & took me to SCN when they called for me.. they put the milk in the tubes & did what they needed to do & i felt very alone in that respect. I wish that the nursing team that i dealt with showed a little more understanding. When i gave them the expressed milk, some would look at it & huff, 'is that all?' ummm, yeah - it's friggin hard to express when ur so sick yourself & you are under so much stress - it is not a 'normal' situation.

Just ask the question - do you need some help with that.. would've been all it took. Some mums & babies dont instinctively know what they should be doing - especially after a not so ideal start. Nurses happily show you how to bathe your baby, but dont help with breastfeeding/expressing... weird.

Things that were important to me is that the nursing team called DH & myself by our names - they all remembered & made it feel more personal. They asked us how we wanted to manage the visitors - that was the only thing we had control over. I felt very out of control & almost unneeded in the environment cause the nurses did everything for my baby - not me. I do get that sometimes that is just the way it needs to be, but it felt like i could;ve walked away & no-one wouldve noticed - IYKWIM . I couldnt even change his nappy.

When we went back for our second visit to SCN - another complication after discharge from hospital - their attitudes were much different - much more pleasant & friendly. I dont know if it was becasue i was more relaxed & so the first visit was just my warped perspective (& DH isnt home ATM for me to ask him) or if it was because the second visit he was no where near as sick or what .. i dunno, but the second visit was definitely a lot nicer. The expressing nazis were still there, but i knew what i was doing that time, so didnt let them worry me so much & was topping him up with formula by then.

I can appreciate that at times it would be hard as part of the nursing team to work in that environmnet, but these special people need to be so empathetic - beyond the normal range of empathy. You need to be a master of reading people & their body language (which you probably already are) & i think that you really need to be able to read between the lines.. i know that when nurses used to ask me how i was sleeping or whatever i would just say yeah, alright & not really tell them the truth - sometimes it is worthwhile to ask the hard questions & probe a little deeper.

I dont even know if any of that rambling makes any sense, let alone being of any help to you - it is a particularly painful time in my life & the fact that i was so sick too means that i cant remember a lot about it & i find that really frustrating.
Thank you both for your responses, I will certainly take what you have both said on board. I suppose in that very difficult time it may be hard for a nurse to know exactly what a mother needs but as you said, it's important to be able to read people and situations. It's going to be a tough job - to learn all the nursing things re caring for neonates but also to learn how to care for the parents as well.

Chilliwoman you have clearly had a very traumatic experience and it's a shame that you didn't feel well supported by the staff all the time. I appreciate your honesty in sharing your story.




Follow my blog "Bed Rest for Baby" at http://www.babysteps1804.wordpress.com

You'll do great smile The fact that you're asking these questions now shows that you care & you want to be GOOD in your field.

I too want to work in SCN/NICU in the future (im yet to study nursing though lol) I want to wait til after Ive had all my kids. Some people Ive spoken to about it have told me that while the baby is the patient, the parents need just as much care & attention.
hi there

my oldest was in SCN but only for a few dyas. To be honset I was so groggy that I barley remmeber any of it, other than missing him so much as my bed was on a different level to the nursery so my hubby had to wheel me there in my wheelchair.

I found expressing to be really really difficult, but the nurses were lovely and would send me updated photos of him to look at while expressing which I thought was beautiful, although it made me even more teary!!

Like some of the other ladies have said, taking the time to get to know the parents and explain everything to them (even if it seems like the 50th time) If like me some of the mums may be so drugged up it might seem like the 1st time they hear it!!

GL to you, I htink by taking the time to ask these questions shows you will be a great SCN nurse!!


Mr J (April 2005) Miss Z (Feb 2007) and Miss O (Oct 2010)

Congratulations on your new job!

For me, the best nurses were the ones who would just come up, pluck bub out and give her straight to me smile

I did a lot of kangaroo care with DD from day 1, but then she was transferred to a different hospital after around 4 weeks and they had a VERY different approach. They would get really annoyed at me when I wanted to take her out and one even gave me a lecture saying I was SELFISH for wanting to take her out of the humidicrib as that was the best environment for her (then stood over my shoulder with an oxygen tube even though her sats were great... grrr). Point is, DON'T be one of those nurses! lol

Skubala wrote:
Chilliwoman you have clearly had a very traumatic experience and it's a shame that you didn't feel well supported by the staff all the time. I appreciate your honesty in sharing your story.


it was an awful time - especially when it's your first child & you have no idea what's happening.
I have come to accept the situation now (he is 13 now afterall), but do wish that it could've been different - but, i don't let it overwhelm me & have the poor me attitude & i dont feel like i was 'robbed' of a proper birthing experience.. it was just different, its my reality - that's all.

I wish you all the luck
DD was in the NICU for about 3 weeks and then SCN for 1 week. All of the staff I encountered in both were absolutely fabulous. I found that the nurses that took the time were the best. For example, when I was having kangaroo cuddles, I had one nurse who chatted to me whilst I was holding DD, it was just idle talk, but when your in a NICU for a while it's nice to just talk about nothing in particular. I am a person who likes to talk and could talk under water, so I really enjoyed the chat, but I know not everyone is a 'chatter'.
I had immense guilt, as well, that my DD was born premmie and I was told alot of mums go through that have premmies. I had a good cry with one of the nurses, and it was so lovely not to feel judged, she just listened and told me it wasn't my fault and was just comforting.
The best staff were the ones that were approachable and made you feel part of the experience.
The nurses do a great job and it must be hard at times with some of the babies needing so much help when they come in. From my own experience, please remember that when parents first arrive, they may be feeling completely out of their depth and not know what questions to ask. My daughter was full term, but had oxygen deprivation (HIE) so was sedated and had the cooling treatment for 72 hours. While she was under kangaroo care was out of the question as we couldn't risk her warming up. I was told by the nurses that I couldn't even stroke her feet as this may play havoc on her brain activity readings. I was left feeling like I couldn't do anything for her as her mother-no one volunteered any information about helping with her nappy changes/washing etc and this was more than 36 hours after her arrival. I didn't know what questions to ask and assumed that I wouldn't be allowed to handle her because of all the machines etc and it wasn't until my mother, also a nurse, told me to specifically go and ask what I could do that the nurse let me help with nappies changes etc. I would also ask that you keep an eye on mums who are about to start breastfeeding for the first time and make sure they had adequate support as I had no idea that there was a lactation consultant for the NICU and thought I was doing fine. We left the NICU and went up to the maternity ward where the staff all assumed I must know what I was doing as I wasn't a brand new mum so I ran into trouble-thankfully a lactation consultant stepped in and helped me out. Also, please don't go on and on about how sick the baby is or was in front of the mother-I had one nurse who did that at every handover (bubs had an apgar of 1 until 20 minutes, when it went up to 5 because she was on a vent) and while she was being positive about how much progress bubs had made, it did get rather draining to have it dredged up again and again.

I found the nurses that helped me feel involved and were happy for us when progress was evident really helped. Rejoice in the good times and let the mums (or even the dads) know it is OK to have a cry if they need to.

Personally I feel that the NICUs really need at least one person there whose purpose is to support the parents-one nurse admitted that the parents were sometimes forgotten as the focus is on the bubs (and rightly so). I wrote my thoughts and sent them through to our consultant who passed them onto the nurses. Having a parental support person/team would probably benefit both the staff and the parents, but sadly, funding is probably the biggest obstacle.

I wish you all the best-the fact that you have posted your request shows you are going to do well and already have an appreciation for the journeys NICU parents and their bubs make during and after their time in the NICU. You are going to make a difference in so many people's lives in a way that few people get to. smile
One other thing-don't pressure the mothers who are expressing about milk. I know that milk is important, but when the mother is really trying and it is not happening, any small pressure feels like a boulder. I was lucky in that I was full term and my milk was ready to come in so after a slight hiccup at the start of expressing, I was fine. My room mate was also a NICU mum who had had an emergency c-section at 31 weeks. The experience had been terrifying for her and she had developed an infection afterwards along with having diabetes. Premature birth, c-sections, diabetes and infections have been known to cause issues for some mums and milk supply when only 1 or 2 of these factors comes into play. My room mate had all of them and felt under pressure from her partner and the NICU nurses to express more milk (her words were-they "jumped on me asking for milk every time I go down). After several days, she cracked-for ten minutes she cried hysterically unable to explain to anyone what the matter was.

Please encourage your mums(and dads) and let them know they are doing fine. Encourage the expressing mums to keep going, but if some are at the end of their tether and decide to stop, support them in their choice. My room mate felt that she was failing her daughter by not being able to provide breast milk for her. If we can ever get milk banks set up in all/most of our NICUs and SCBUs, this would be a help to many mothers, but in the mean time, encourage any of your mums that are expressing. It does feel mechanical rather than maternal, but an encouraging word from you as her nurse could be just the boost she needs.
As a premmie mum to a 33 weeker.... It's probably all been said but..

Let's just point out NOT to pull the babies hair when trying to fit phototherapy glasses.... The Midwife kept doing that to my little girl and couldn't work out why she was trying to cry.

Let the mums and dads do whatever they can to care for bub. We were lucky that she was only in the isolette as she was small for dates. Not sure if she was IUGR (offically) or not.

Don't yell at mum's who can't breastfeed. It's stressful enough.

Be approachable for any questions they might have

Thank you for becoming one of the special people who look after our precious, early gifts!
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