NICU families offered support, education through new program
For parents Gabriela Solis and Steffen Mckay, new classes at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital have helped them better understand their newborn, Asce, who has been in the Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for more than 75 days.
“The classes have been a blessing,” says Solis. “We had so many questions.”
In recognition of World Prematurity Day on Nov. 17, Tacoma General announced a March of Dimes NICU Family Support program that provides classes and other resources to families with babies in the NICU.
Solis and Mckay recently attended a class about “kangaroo care,” a method for holding babies that involves prolonged skin-to-skin contact. Kangaroo care, a common part of care for babies in the NICU, mimics the womb environment, regulates an infant’s body temperature and helps with parent-infant bonding, among other benefits.
“It gives families a chance to really get to know their baby, rather than just staring at the machines,” says Katy Erickson, RNC, a family support specialist who arranges the classes. “I think they know their baby better when they do it more often.”
Solis and Mckay’s baby, Asce, weighed 1 pound, 1 ounce when he was born Aug. 31. Last week, he hit 4.5 pounds.
Asce has had good days and bad, so the family appreciates that they can meet and socialize with other families who understand what they’re going through.
“It’s been a big help,” says Mckay.
Erickson says the camaraderie is an important part of the classes, which are more of a conversation than a lecture format.
“They can share their stories and struggles with each other,” Erickson says. “They’re learning from each other. They’re teaching each other.”
Other class topics include infant nutrition and preparing to take your baby home. Families can find a current class calendar in the NICU family waiting room, or ask a NICU nurse.
About The Author
Roxanne Cooke is our senior content editor and manages Vitals, Kite Strings and Bring Happy Back, plus special projects such as 24 Hours at Tacoma General Hospital and The Healthy Futures Project. She tells stories in words, photos and video. You can reach her at [email protected]More stories by this author