Some jobs require an epic amount of responsibility. Pilots are responsible for the safety of all souls on airplanes. Police officers are tasked with keeping communities safe. Firefighters need to go into burning houses. Neonatal nurses are responsible for tiny preemies, as well as non-premature newborns who are born with health issues. These helpless infants need round-the-clock care.
Caring neonatal nurses follow so many rules to make sure that they give babies the highest standards of medical care. They also give babies who are under their care affection and emotional support. Neonatal nurses are heroes and heroines because they do so much for tiny preemies and their parents.
Right now, there is a lot of demand for neonatal nurses. In the USA, the demand for these nurses is expected to rise by up to 31 percent by 2022, according to information from Nursejournal.org.
To get this job, a person needs to be a registered nurse who has a degree (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), as well as certification in neonatal intensive care nursing and/or neonatal resuscitation. Clinical experience in health care facility settings may also be needed.
Now, it's time to look at the rules that these dedicated and skilled nurses have to follow.
20 They Have To Work In Care Teams
Neonatal nurses don't go it alone at hospitals. They work with care teams to give babies the medical care that they need. Since working in care teams is part of the job, neonatal nurses need to be team players.
If you've watched Grey's Anatomy, you already know that hospitals employ many different types of people, who may not see eye to eye sometimes. While Grey's is a prime-time soap, it's safe to say that it's based on reality. Neonatal nurses need to get along with so many other health care professionals in order to do their jobs well. These nurses have to be diplomatic.
19 They Need To Check Vital Signs
To ensure that all babies under their care are thriving, neonatal nurses need to check the vital signs of babies on a regular basis. This is a rule that neonatal nurses have to follow. Breathing rate and pulse are just two examples. Neonatal nurses have to take accurate readings of these vital signs and then record the results.
Without these accurate readings of vital signs, it's hard for health care teams to assess the progress of babies and decide on treatments for babies. Neonatal nursing is a job that requires painstaking attention to detail. There's not a lot of room for mistakes.
18 Feedings Require A Lot Of Skill And Experience
Feeding a preemie or a sick, full-term baby is not like giving a typical healthy baby of normal weight a bottle. Smaller preemies aren't usually fed by mouth. Medical apparatuses are needed to deliver nutrients directly to their tummies. Neonatal nurses master the art and science of feeding preemies and ill, non-premature babies. These feeding tasks aren't easy.
This nursing job requires a lot of delicacy. Feedings can't be performed without knowledge of medical equipment and supplies, along with the ability to use equipment and supplies perfectly. Preemies born at thirty-four to thirty-seven weeks gestation may be fed in more traditional ways, according to the Medlineplus.gov website.
17 They Track The BMs Of Preemies
Tracking the progress of newborns is a big part of this job. This includes tracking the bowel movements of babies. According to Healthlinkbc.ca, newborns who aren't premature or experiencing health problems will usually have BMs once or twice per day. By seven days old, a healthy, full-term newborn may have a bowel movement five to 10 times per day.
With preemies or ill, full-term babies, BM patterns may be different. Nurses need to track bowel movements to make sure that especially vulnerable babies are doing well and developing as they should be. Information recorded is shared with health care teams.
16 They Need To Be Compassionate With Parents
Many parents with babies in NICU/neonatal units are stressed out. Their babies are premature or dealing with other issues. Nurses need to get their jobs done, while also supporting and comforting parents.
Most neonatal nurses are very supportive of parents. They know that parents are under pressure and they are there to give them information and to support them as they begin to bond with their babies. Nurses help parents by offering guidance and support that is based on years of experience and training.
Nurses get into nursing because they want to help others. This includes the parents of premature babies or sick, full-term newborns.
15 They Keep Track Of Milestones In Baby Development
Nurses record information that becomes timelines for the development of babies. Every piece of information that they record helps to track baby development milestones.
Tracking these milestones is important. When a baby in a neonatal unit is developed enough, it can go home with mom and/or dad. Before the right milestones are met, it's too soon for a baby to go home.
Some babies hit milestones sooner than others. Nurses make sure that the right information is recorded. Every element of a baby's development is tracked. This helps doctors to make smart decisions about when to release babies from neonatal units.
14 They Need To Use High-tech Equipment
Babies who are born premature or are experiencing health problems, even though they are full-term, require specialized care. Medical machines and equipment are usually utilized in order to ensure that these babies are in optimal environments.
For this reason, every neonatal nurse needs to understand how to use some very high-tech medical equipment. Ventilators and blood pressure monitors are examples of high-tech medical machines that neonatal nurses need to use. Nurses also need to understand how to administer meds accurately. With babies this small, giving proper doses is so important.
Education and training help neonatal nurses to handle their many responsibilities effectively.
13 They’re Allowed To Cuddle Babies Sometimes
Babies in neonatal units need love in order to thrive. Caring neonatal nurses make sure that these babies get affection, in addition to appropriate medical care. Neonatal nurses are allowed to cuddle babies sometimes. In fact, they are encouraged to do so.
Babies who don't get cuddled aren't getting the newborn experience that they need and deserve. While some preemies or ill, full-term babies may be too fragile for cuddling, most will be touched in a caring way, at least now and then.
Since parents of these babies can't be there all of the time, nurses step up and deliver cuddles and love. They stand in for parents when parents aren't at the hospital.
12 They Keep Unauthorized Visitors Out
Nurses are skilled health care pros and they are also guards. They keep unauthorized personnel out of neonatal units. This is an important part of their duties. No one who doesn't have a good reason to be in a neonatal unit should be in there. The babies in these units are extremely vulnerable and they can't be unprotected from unauthorized persons.
So, nurses make sure that only the right health care team members and parents or guardians are allowed in. Without this type of security in a neonatal unit, problems may crop up. Babies may be open to germs or untrustworthy characters.
11 They Wash Their Hands A Lot
Germs can make premature or ill, full-term babies take a turn for the worse. Nurses know all about germs and that's why they wash their hands a lot. This is a rule that all of us can follow. If you're the mom of a baby, keeping your own hands clean by frequent and proper hand-washing with soap and warm water will be a great way to lower the risk of transmitting germs to your baby. It'll also help you to stay well.
Babies in neonatal units are fragile. Nurses keep their hands as clean as possible at all times in order to avoid passing germs to these vulnerable babies.
10 They Encourage Kangaroo Care For New Parents
Kangaroo care is about helping a baby bond with a parent. It's about creating a tangible sense of closeness between baby and parent or guardian. According to En.wikipedia.org, kangaroo care happens when a baby and an adult have skin-to-skin contact. The baby's position is secured via a wrap made of stretchy fabric.
This form of baby care is recommended for preemies. It's usually practiced for the first six months of a preemie's life. With full-term babies, it's practiced for three months. While some babies in neonatal units may be too fragile for kangaroo care, it's something that nurses will encourage if it's feasible, because it's good for the emotional development of babies.
9 They Offer Support To Nursing Moms
It's often possible for moms of premature babies or ill, full-term babies to nurse their infants, although it usually doesn't happen the traditional way. A mom will generally need to pump her mother's milk. This milk will then be administered to a baby through a feeding tube that goes into the baby's tummy.
Nurses know that mother's milk is very good for vulnerable babies. It helps them to develop properly. Nurses in neonatal units definitely believe in mother's milk. It's powerful in terms of boosting a baby's immune system and helps in so many other ways. This is why nurses assist nursing mothers.
8 They Help Babies Get Enough Sleep
Babies in neonatal units need to rest in order to develop properly. This is why neonatal nurses go the extra mile by creating soothing, restful environments that promote sleep.
Neonatal units aren't supposed to be noisy and chaotic places. They are tranquil environments — unless there's some sort of medical emergency. By four months of age, the typical preemie is expected to sleep for six to eight hours per night, according to Safebabybmt.paragondsi.com.
Imagine yourself caring for a bunch of babies in a neonatal unit. Do you think you could meet the challenge? This is a tough job and neonatal nurses deserve so much respect.
7 They Keep Diaper Changing Areas In Good Condition
Nurses in neonatal units also care for the tender and delicate diaper areas of babies, as well as the rest of their skin. They change diapers very gently and make sure to apply creams, lotions or ointments which prevent or treat diaper rash. The goal of neonatal nurses is to ensure that babies are as comfortable as possible. Also, it's important that the skin of these babies remains in as good condition as possible, because infections may enter via the skin.
These nurses are changing the diapers and caring for the diaper areas of very tiny babies. They take care to ensure that babies are clean, dry and protected from skin irritation.
6 They Monitor Any Changes In Progress
If a baby in a neonatal unit isn't hitting milestones, doctors need to know. This is where nurses come in. They make notes of any changes in progress, for better or worse, so doctors have accurate information to work with.
Sometimes, the progress of a preemie or ill, full-term newborn may change overnight, or within minutes. Neonatal nurses constantly monitor babies, looking for shifts in progress which might be important. Nurses want the babies under their care to do well. They take care to perform monitoring, so they are able to take action as soon as there is a problem.
5 They Work Long Shifts
A neonatal nurse may work a 12-hour shift. This is a lot longer than the typical, eight-hour shift that most of us are used to working. In some hospitals, neonatal nurses may work for eight hours per shift. It varies depending on the health care facility.
In general, according to Careervillage.com, a neonatal nurse will do three shifts of 12 hours each, three times a week. So, nurses on this schedule do have four days off per week. However, they work much longer shifts while at hospitals, which makes it tough for them to enjoy quality time with family and friends on workdays. There are pros and cons to this job.
4 They Give Parents Updates
Neonatal nurses support parents emotionally by helping them to bond with their babies. They also help mothers to nurse. However, the support that they offer doesn't end there. They also give parents updates on their babies' progress. This must be pleasant when there is good news to report. It must be stressful for neonatal nurses when there isn't any good news.
Nurses are trained in how to deliver updates to parents. They know how to communicate effectively and clearly. They know how to be professional, yet compassionate. A lot is expected from neonatal nurses and most exceed expectations. This job attracts special people.
3 They Must Keep Babies Warm Enough
Babies in neonatal units are often premature or larger, but unwell. Many of these babies may need to be kept warmer than average, due to their lower levels of development. Nurses provide babies with the warmth that they need by ensuring that they are cozy in incubators.
According to Verywellfamily.com, incubators are the same sizes as standard cribs, but with a lot of special features that regular cribs don't have. The incubator allows for adjustable heating and helps to protect the preemie from lots of risk factors, including infections and allergens. Incubators also block some sound and light, to help babies relax.
2 They Need To Assess The Pain Levels Of Babies
Nurses record a lot of information. Nurses in neonatal units need to assess just how much pain babies are in, if any. This is a big responsibility. There is a scale that nurses use in order to figure out how much pain babies are feeling. It's not a scale that babies are weighed on. It's a checklist type of scale, which nurses rely on to assess pain as accurately as possible.
Pain in infants is difficult to recognize, but neonatal nurses have special training that helps them to spot it and measure it. There are some nurses that don't utilize pain assessment tools.
1 They Try To Keep Babies Stress-free
Incubators help to block out some light and noise which might upset babies. Neonatal nurses are also standing by to do all that they can to keep babies stress-free. If nurses feel that the stress levels of babies are rising, they will do everything in their power to reduce those stress levels.
Sometimes, preemies or ill, full-term babies are given safe pain relief to de-stress them. At other times, other methods are used, such as cuddling or making an environment quieter. Neonatal nurses offer such a high standard of care to vulnerable babies. They help the most vulnerable babies to grow big and strong.
Sources: Nursejournal.org, Medlineplus.gov, Healthlinkbc.ca, En.wikipedia.org, Safebabybmt.paragondsi.com, Careervillage.com, Verywellfamily.com