Below are some of the more commonly asked questions about the NICU at LHSC.
Why is my baby in the NICU?
Your baby may require any of the following:
- intensive nursing care
- monitoring, observation
- diagnostic tests
- special medications
- surgical procedures.
How long will my baby need to stay in the NICU?
The length of time a baby remains in the NICU depends on the severity of their illness. Most babies admitted to the NICU are premature (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), have low birth weight (less than 2250 grams) or have a medical condition that requires special care. Twins, triplets and other multiples, are often admitted to the NICU because they tend to be born earlier and smaller than single birth babies. Babies with medical conditions such as heart problems, infections or birth defects are also cared for in a NICU.
How do I access the NICU?
The NICU is a secured unit with controlled access. Parents will be provided with an access code that allows them in and out privileges to the unit. Do not share your code with anyone. This is important for the protection of all infants in the NICU. Do not allow others to follow you into the NICU. Instruct others to call into the unit via the phone located near the entrance to the NICU.
What to do upon entering the NICU?
Assess you and your visitors for wellness before entering the NICU by reading the sign located at the entrance to the NICU. Please remove coats/outerwear and carry them to your baby’s room. Parents can store their coats in their baby’s room cupboard. The NICU is not responsible for items left in the front entrance. Wash your hands every time you enter the NICU with either waterless cleanser or soap and water. A volunteer or unit clerk is sometimes available at the front desk to assist you with any questions you may have.
Please note that food, drinks (except water in a covered container), latex balloons, flowers and live plants are not permitted in the unit.
What to expect upon entering the NICU?
- The NICU is accessible 24 hours a day. We encourage parental presence at any time of the day or night.
- We limit the number of people at the bedside to a maximum of 3 at any time (this includes parents).
- You will be asked to complete a visiting list for people you give permission to see your child when you are not present.
- Brothers and sisters of the baby are welcome in the NICU. They must be healthy. Their vaccinations need to be up to date and a copy of their vaccination record must be provided to the NICU before they visit. They need to have had chicken pox or have been vaccinated against chicken pox. (and not in the last 3 weeks)
- You will meet the nurse caring for your baby as well as members of the medical team.
- The nurse assigned to care for your baby may also be assigned to one to three other babies.
- Change of shift nursing report will take place at your baby’s bedside each day around 7:00 am and 7:00 pm. You are welcome to be present and participate in report.
- Multidisciplinary team rounds take place every day between 9:30 and 11:30 for each baby in the NICU. This team may include the respiratory therapist, clinical nutritionist, pharmacist, social worker, physiotherapist, as well as the medical team and the bedside nurse. Parents are encouraged to partner with the medical care team in decision making regarding the care for your baby. Please ask any questions you may have.
- Social Workers are available for all families. Ask your nurse for more details.
Who is medically responsible for my child?
- Your baby is assigned to either the Red or Blue Medical Team. Each team consists of a neonatologist, neonatal fellow, paediatric residents and nurse practitioners who are responsible for your baby’s medical care. The neonatologist on the team may change every week and on weekends. The name appearing on your baby’s chart and bed card is the neonatologist who was on service on the date of your baby’s admission to the NICU.
- Members of the medical team are available to meet with you regularly and provide an update on your baby. If you need to speak with a doctor please let your bedside nurse know and they can help arrange an update.
Where can I eat or drink in the NICU?
- No food or drink (except water) is permitted in the patient rooms in NICU as per our infection control policy.
- Water in a covered container is permitted at the bedside.
- Food and other types of drinks are allowed in the Family Lounge/Kitchen on B4-322 at the back of Pod A or in the waiting area at the entrance of the NICU.
- A refrigerator, microwave and toaster are available for family use. When placing food in the fridge please label with your name.
Where can I put my personal belongings when spending time in NICU?
- All personal belongings can be stored in the cupboard in your baby’s room.
- Please remove all valuables from pockets, as the hospital cannot be responsible for any lost items.
What do I need to know about expressing breastmilk for my baby?
- View the 'Babies Need Their Mother's Milk' PDF for more information.
- Meet with the lactation consultant to discuss obtaining your own breast pump and any other breastfeeding concerns.
- Ensure you understand how to clean your breast pump kit both at home and in hospital.
- Obtain labels for your expressed breastmilk (EBM) and bottles for storage.
- Visit the Middlesex London Health Unit 'Breastfeeding' web page for information about how to transport your milk to hospital safely.
Where can I rent a breast pump?
Where can I take a shower?
- Shower facilities are located in the Family Lounge, which can be found at on B4-322 at the back of Pod A.
- Ronald McDonald Family Room® can be found on B6-258.
What if I want to stay overnight?
- Kangaroo and sleeper chairs are available for use in the NICU at your baby’s bedside.
- For those living outside of the London area, Ronald McDonald House® is located within walking distance of the hospital.
- Ronald McDonald Family Room® is located on B6-258.
- It is open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.
- Parents/caregivers must have a medical referral from a nurse or social worker to register to use as an overnight sleep room.
- Speak with a volunteer on duty during the day of the evening the sleep room is required.
- Call 519-685-8500 extension: 56896.
- Sleep Rooms are open from 8:30 pm to 9 am.
Can I use my cell phone in the NICU?
- Parents may use their cell phones in the NICU, however there are a few recommendations for patient safety, privacy, noise levels and infection control.
- Hospital Wi-Fi is available.
- Your Bluetooth should be turned off in close proximity to your baby’s medical equipment.
- Please use the texting feature for communication, rather than verbal conversation due to privacy and to maintain a reduced noise level in the NICU.
- Charging a cell phone on any power outlets within the infant headwall is not allowed. (Please ask your nurse for the location of an acceptable power outlet).
- Cell phones can be a source of bacteria. Please ensure that you clean your phone daily according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Always use the alcohol-based hand sanitizer or perform a hand wash after using your cell phone before touching your baby.
- You may use your electronic device while holding your baby but please have the hand sanitizer nearby to clean your hands before touching or providing care to your baby.
- For more information please see the LHSC Cell Phone page
- A telephone for family use is provided in the kitchenette at the back of Pod A. To dial out, press “9” for an outside line and continue the call.
Who can I speak to if I have any concerns or questions?
- Do not hesitate to speak with your bedside nurse, social worker, or member of the medical team.
- A Charge Nurse is available 24 hours per day.
- You may also contact the Clinical Managers for the NICU:
- Jeanette Mills, Clinical Manager NICU- Extension: 65389
- Travis Breedveld, Clinical Manager NICU - Extension: 64573
- Family Resource Facilitators are available in the Paediatric Family Resource Centre (PFRC) Located in B tower, first floor Room 006, extension: 52604.
What about OHIP and my baby’s birth registration?
The top section of the OHIP form is to be filled out and returned before you leave the hospital. The bottom slip will be given to you as your baby’s temporary health card. You should take this slip with you to all your baby’s appointments until the card is mailed to you.
- You can fill out your baby’s birth registration and apply for the birth certificate on the Service Ontario website.
- The Pediatric Family Resource Centre is available if you need assistance.
What about research in the NICU?
London Health Science Centre is a teaching, research and health-care facility. In the NICU we strive to provide the excellent care to our tiny patients. Research is a very important part of the work we do. Through research we learn the best way to care for our infants.
What kind of research is done?
Research is done to find ways of improving nutrition, medication and respiratory care. We also do research to find ways of preventing and reducing infection. Some of the research implements new techniques and procedures. Quite often research requires monitoring your baby more closely.
Are there risks to taking part in research?
If there are any risks to taking part in a study they will be explained to you so that you can decide if the study is right for your baby. A study is not allowed in the NICU unless all risks have been minimized. All personal information gathered about you or your baby will be kept confidential. All research in the NICU must be approved by the Research Ethics Board at the University of Western Ontario.