NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT (NICU)
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) centre at Manipal Hospitals is one of the largest facilities of its kind in India combining advanced technology and trained healthcare professionals to provide specialized treatment for newborn babies. The NICU is equipped with the latest technology and expert neonatologists, qualified neonatal nurse practitioners and specially trained neonatal nurses in order to provide intensive medical attention to the newborns requiring it. The NICU service at Manipal Hospitals caters to the high-risk neonates, underweight babies and various other neonatal surgical problems.
A baby has a greater risk of being admitted to a NICU hospital if the mother has one or more of the following conditions:
- Age of the mother is less than 16 or older than 40 years
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Drugs and alcohol consumption
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Multiple pregnancy
- Abnormal amniotic fluid levels
Some other factors affecting a baby which would require NICU services are:
- Underweight or overweight baby at birth
- Birth defects
- Respiratory problems such as rapid breathing or apnea
- Infections like herpes, Chlamydia
- Lack of oxygen at birth
- Abnormal delivery such as breech delivery ( buttocks delivered first)
- Cord around the baby’s neck
- Meconium, where the baby’s first stool is passed during pregnancy into the amniotic fluid.
Premature babies need extra medical care and attention in order for them to attain the normal physical development which they would have normally obtained in the womb of the mother. This is where a neonatal intensive care unit comes in handy. It provides the required support to the baby with the help of various equipments. A NICU facility usually comprises of the following equipments:
- Incubator: A transparent box which may be open with an artificial heater, or closed in order to keep the air around the baby warm and maintain the temperature levels conducive for the baby
- Monitors: Specialized equipments continuously monitor the vital health parameters of the baby, including the breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and oxygen levels in the blood.
- Intravenous Drip: The baby receives the essential nutrients, fluids and medications through an IV drip. If the baby needs it for a prolonged period of time, a catheter may be used. The flexible plastic feeding tubes comprises of a nasogastric tube which goes through the baby’s nose, an orogastric tube which passes through the mouth and/or transpyloric tube which goes directly into the gut,
- Ventilator: This machine delivers air and oxygen through the baby’s nose or throat directly into the lungs.
Some tips for caring for your premature baby are:
- Talk to the support staff who are looking after your baby. They can also advice you about the ways you can help your baby feel comfortable. You can ask them about the ways to soothe your baby, giving him/her a massage, breastfeeding your baby and helping your baby sleep.
- A simple and effective way to care for your premature baby involves holding your baby against your chest for some much-needed skin-to-skin contact. This can help your baby gain weight, fight infections, stay warm and become healthy as soon as possible.
Talk to the neonatal intensive care unit staff and communicate any concern or doubt which you may have. They will provide the answers and do their best to find solutions to address all of your queries.