My NICU Survival Guide & Why
My friend asked what my NICU recommendations are and as I started to make the list for her, it just kept growing so I figured I’d make it a post that can help others as well. I wish someone had told me what to bring & wear – here is my NICU Survival Guide – tons of recommendations for all NICU Mamas to help make their difficult time a little bit easier.
I have so much to include in this NICU Survival Guide so I will do it in sections because otherwise, it’ll be an extremely long post and I’ll never get it finished.
Our favorite nursing pillow – hands down – is the My Breastfriend Deluxe. I have tried too many and this is by far the best. Incredible back support, little pillow lift for infants head, pocket for pacifier, water, nipple shield, etc. It clips on so you can stand up to put the baby back safely and it’ll stay on your hips.
I was able to keep it in Beck’s little station so I didn’t have to schlep it to and from every time I was at cares. I kept the plastic protection bag it comes with to keep it clean. Also – it was nice having an extra slip cover so If one was soiled, I could take it home and have another there ready to go.
For the first few weeks, I rented a hospital strength pump but I couldn’t really see a difference from my Medela Pump (which I love). So I stopped doing that but I was also lucky enough to be over producing so that could be a reason they recommend the hospital grade – to get supply up. Also, make sure you have the right size pump shields that hook to your pump. I didn’t realize that you can buy different sizes with Millie but I am so glad I did with Beck – especially with how much I’m having to pump.
Medela Quick Clean Wipes & Medela Quick Clean Breastmilk Removal Soap are sooo helpful! It gets the marks off bottles that even dishwashers can’t get off. I just kept it in my pump bag and used it to clean my pump parts when pumping at the NICU & on the go because you’re pumping every 3 (sometimes 2) hours .
At our NICU, they had a pump room that was stocked with bottles – definitely use them. I didn’t like to pump in their much, the nurse said I can always ask for a pump to be brought to Beck’s bedside and I can pump there. I will also help boost milk supply if you’re near the baby.
I am going crazy over these & wish I had them once I filled up my supply of milk space in the NICU. So helpful for your extra milk when baby is home. We are still adding fortifier to every other feeding so these are extremely helpful since I am having to pump 3-4 sometimes 5 times a day.
Hands Free Pumping
Hands Free Pumping is a definite must! Especially early mornings when you’re trying to get a shower in and pump before heading to the hospital.
I still wear my Hands Free Pumping Bra every day (as most NICU babies will go home on fortification – you will be bottle feeding at least every other feeding…. and that means you get to keep on pumping).
I liked to bring in clean soft flannel blankets to swaddle Beck in. The ones the hospital have are often so worn they’re scratchy, and this way he could be in a blanket that was a little cuter which was nice for pictures.
I got probably 3-4 packs so that I could take home a bag & launder each night. They go through them pretty quickly.
Nipple Shields are very helpful to preemie babies so they don’t have to exhaust too much energy while learning to feed.
The hospital will probably provide you with one but I liked having 2-3 so that I could take them home and sanitize them. I also like this model the best because it has the plastic cut out where the babies nose is & then the oxygen & feeding tubs don’t get stuck to it cutting of the airway to babies nose.
MY NICU UNIFORM
I basically wore the same outfit in variations every day. It helped me stay comfortable and still functional.
You can see how I used some of the items in these picture from our NICU stay.
Wrap Cardigan Sweaters – These were a must. They were perfect for doing skin to skin & being able to keep the baby warm and yourself covered. That way you don’t have to change into a gown every time you hold baby.
Especially since the temperature in the NICU changed throughout the day and that mixed with hormones, I just wore the tank and cardigan.
Regular zip sweaters I don’t recommend because when you’re doing skin to skin, then you can’t use it as a wrap because the zipper will scratch the little nugget. I liked having wraps with a tie (but not a must) so that I could close everything up while walking in and out of the hospital.
Because I had such a difficult time finding cardigans/wraps that worked, I brought in a TON for my clothing shop DIVI. I found some incredible ones & am in the works of designing one that will release next fall. Use code: NICUmamas for 25% these sweaters.
Other Wraps I’ve Found
Nursing Tanks – Target has some great options but I was able to get more online – in store was slim and lacked size and color variation. H&M has a good 2-pack as well.
I usually had an extra in my bag in case baby spits up on you. I suggest having 4-5 minimum so you can have at least 2-3 clean at all times.
Comfy Pants – You’re going to be sitting in a chair quite a lot – just give in and be as comfortable as possible.
I also liked to wear sweats with pockets so that my phone was handy to take pictures and videos of our tiny babe.
Make sure you sanitize your phone multiple times a visit so that you can still capture these moments but not let nasty phone germs hurt your babe. I always just used the sanitizer wipes that they have at every babies station.
Comfortable Slip-On Shoes
I liked to be able to slip on and of my shoes while I was feeding or holding for long amounts of time. If you’re able to get a chair with a pop up footrest – you’ll want your shoes to be easy to slide of without using your hands.
This post may contain affiliate links – All thoughts and opinions are 100% truthful and my own.