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Save the Date:
2012 Second Annual NANT Conference

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Premature Babies Inspire –
First Annual NANT Conference

Systems Create Space

I was fortunate to meet some great parents at our NICU parent group meeting this weekend. Two of the NICU nurses do a great job planning the schedule for the year and organizing all the details. I was so glad they invited me to speak. I always seem to learn as much as I teach, if not more.

I want to leave you with just 3 thoughts about what I learned there, inside of an hour or so that I wouldn’t learn from connecting with parents at the bedside.

1) Provide Space Away from the Bedside:

I know we ‘know’ this, but wow, parents really need permission and space to connect with each other. And once they do, the energy, support and healing in the room increases exponentially. We provide great information and support as caregivers, but only fellow NICU parents can truly empathize with the journey, the trauma, and the miraculous victories.

2) Parents Crave Information:

Anytime I speak to parents I’m always amazed at how GOOD their questions are! AND it makes me realize how much more we need to explain things- things we find ‘routine’, but are anything but obvious when new to the NICU. They love articles, new information, and the knowledge that people are paying attention to ALL of their infant’s needs. (Some needs they didn’t even know premature babies had – especially regarding development.)

3) Parents Teach us What We’re Missing:

Get any group of parents together, ask them what they need, and suddenly you can think of about 10 handouts/pamphlets, videos and signs that would make great additions to your NICU. Some things have nothing to do with the NICU, but rather your hospital. These are equally important.

Do you know how long it takes to park at your facility? Does it cost additional money? Are parents afforded 24 hour ‘visitation’? Do they understand why it takes time for an infant to take all of their feedings orally?

My point is this:

Yes, we need to teach. And we REALLY need to listen. Sometimes at the bedside of course, but also in a separate space with other parents. Somewhere where it’s safe to share and maybe even have some food and drink that isn’t served in hospital vending machines. Be a great part of their story.