Reunions are held yearly to bring past NICU patients, parents and care givers together to renew friendships that began with an NICU hospitalization. The bonds and friendships formed in the NICU often last a lifetime. The reunions include mingling, activities for the children, food and entertainment.
Support from other families who have had babies in the NICU is very important. The Family Advocacy Council, comprised of people whose child was a patient in the NICU, is willing to share their story to support other families with babies in the NICU. To contact the Council, please email or call.
The NICU consists of two levels of care. Your baby’s initial stay may be in the Level IV nursery located on the third floor of the Rainier Pavillion. This is a specialized area for ill newborns, premature newborns and babies requiring special critical care. The capacity is approximately 30 private rooms. As your baby becomes stable and does not require intensive care we will transfer him/her to the Level II care nursery called the Intermediate Care Nursery, or ICN. While in the NICU or ICN, your baby’s bed space may change to meet the needs of the unit. We make every effort to contact you to let you know that we have moved your baby. However, if you come into the unit and your baby has been moved, please do not panic. If there was an emergency with your baby, we would have contacted you.
Your baby can be held when he/she is stable. Every baby is different; it may take as little as a few hours or as long as several days or weeks. The doctors and nurses will discuss this with you in regard to your baby. Sometimes you have been holding your baby consistently and then he/she may take a few steps back. During these times it is important to allow your baby time to rest and get better.
Kangaroo (skin-to-skin) care is a wonderful way to hold your baby. This can be done with most babies that are stable. For the benefit of your baby, a two- to three-hour commitment is required. Since your baby will be held skin-to-skin, it is helpful to wear a shirt that buttons down the front. Both moms and dads can participate in kangaroo care. There are many benefits to kangaroo care. Please speak to your nurse for details.
Most babies are discharged sometime around their due date. The requirements for going home are taking full feedings by breast or bottle and gaining weight. They must be able to maintain their own temperature and not have any apnea or bradycardia episodes, requiring intervention, for five days. As you get closer to going home there will be a discharge teaching check off list that will need to be completed.
There are circumstances when a baby needs to be transferred to another hospital. These could be for medical or insurance reasons. If this applies to your baby it will be discussed prior to the transfer.
Since the age and size of each baby is different, feeding will be started at different times. Most babies will start with very small feedings (trophic feedings). This usually begins within the first several days of life, depending upon your baby’s health status. These feedings will be slowly increased as tolerated by your baby. The ability to coordinate suck, swallow, and breathing usually starts about 34 weeks gestation. At this time babies may be able to start breast or bottle-feeding.
Remember that eating requires extra energy from your baby. Sometimes it can be a slow process that requires patience and time.
Tacoma General Hospital
315 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way
Tacoma, WA 98405
Recorded Direction Line: 253-403-1635
Remember, security is always available to walk you to your car, just call 253-403-1013.
Mom and Baby Boutique
Hours: Monday - Friday: 9am to 5pm
Saturday: 10am to 4pm
Phone number: 253-403-6081
The Atrium Gift Shop
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 9am to 5pm
Tuesday and Thursday: 9am to 6pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12pm to 4pm
Phone number: 253-403-1488
Mary Bridge Gift Shop
Hours: Monday through Friday 9am to 8pm
Saturday 9am to 5pm
Sunday 12 to 5pm
Phone number: 253-403-1489
Located on the 3rd floor between the cafeteria and the Atrium Gift Shop.
Cafeteria-located on the 3rd floor. The Menu Hotline at 253-403-1526 will give the entrees of choice for the day.
Open 7 days a week
~Food is served from 6:30am- to 7pm Monday – Friday and 7:30am to 7pm on weekends
~Expressions Deli--also located on the 3rd floor is open 24 hours a day
Breast Feeding Help/Lactation Consultants
Nurses specially trained to assist with establishing breast feeding and maintaining milk supply are available. Breast pumps are available for rental in the Mom and Baby Boutique.
Days: Monday - Friday
Hours: 9am to 5pm
Phone number: 253-403-1331
Child Safety Seat Checks
Mary Bridge Center for Childhood Safety 253-403-1234
1112 S. 5th Street (corner of South 5th and L streets)
A certified car seat technician will check for appropriate car seats for babies, recalls, and proper installation. They are also available to offer children, families, and the community education about keeping kids safe and healthy. Car seat checks are available on Tuesdays from 9 to 10:30am.
Phone number: 253-403-1417
Pastoral care is available for families who wish to meet with a non-denominational hospital Chaplain for counseling or spiritual support. A non-denominational chapel is located on the 4th floor near the Surgery Waiting Area and is available 24 hours a day. Your own clergy is welcome to visit anytime when accompanied by you. Hospital Chaplain: 253-403-1125.
Perinatal Grief and Loss-“With Empty Arms”
Pat Bird, RN; BSN
The Perinatal Grief and Loss program helps support parents who have experienced a pregnancy loss or newborn death. Each family receives information and support tailored specifically to their own personal experience. Written materials are provided and bereavement counseling is offered.
Family Education Classes
A variety of educational classes and support groups for parents and families are available. Please call 253-403-1036 or 1-800-342-9919 for more information.
Parent Rooms and Apartments
We have a limited number of rooms in the hospital that may be used while working on breastfeeding and preparing for discharge. These rooms are also used for parents with critically ill babies. We also have a few parent apartments available outside of the hospital for those parents who live outside of Pierce County. Due to the limited number, we may need to ask you to vacate these rooms with short notice. Speak to your baby’s case manager or social worker regarding availability of these courtesy rooms.
Telephones for the speech and hearing impaired are available for use if needed. Please ask your baby’s nurse, social worker, or case manager.
Parents who do not speak English or who are more comfortable communicating in another language (including ASL) will be provided with a qualified interpreter. Interpreter services are available 24 hours a day and can be arranged through your baby’s nurse, social worker, or case manager.
Breastfeeding Support: We support breastfeeding and want to make sure you have information to help you get started. There is a lactation nurse who will be following you during your baby’s stay. Helpful information and reminders about breastfeeding are:
The lactation nurse will meet with you in the first few days after the birth of your baby. If you would like to see her earlier, tell your baby’s nurse and he/she will contact the lactation nurse. Also, every Wednesday from 2 to 3pm we have the Mom’s Lactation Support Group in the Intermediate Care Nursery education room.