Welcome to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). We are honored that you have chosen to entrust your baby’s care with us.
Our state-of-the-art NICU, the largest in Massachusetts, provides expert newborn care for nearly 3,000 premature and seriously ill babies and their families each year. Our internationally-recognized neonatologists, expert nursing staff and other NICU health professionals are dedicated to providing the best and most advanced care possible to newborns with critical and unique health challenges.
The NICU at BWH cares for babies:
- Who are extremely premature
- Have one or more major structural complications, serious inherited disorders, or life-threatening conditions such as birth asphyxia (lack of oxygen around the time of birth).
Parents are the most important members of their baby’s care team. Because of this, we welcome parents in the NICU 24 hours a day, every day of the year. With our assistance, parents are educated in techniques for caring for babies in the NICU and are encouraged to touch, hold, feed, and care for their babies as much as possible. Our expert NICU staff will help parents identify the best ways they can help their baby recover, grow, and develop.
Your Baby’s Care Team
Even when you are in the best place with the best doctors, nurses, and other staff, we understand that a stay in the NICU can be a very challenging time. Your newborn will receive individualized, specialty care from a dedicated NICU team that will help your baby grow and thrive while in the hospital. This comprehensive team will guide you through your newborn’s stay in the NICU, communicating and educating you about your baby’s progress, teaching you about our efforts to overcome medical challenges, and providing resources to educate and support you through this difficult time.
The Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine is led by Chair Terrie Inder, MD, MBChB, a dual-boarded neonatologist and child neurologist, and Linda Van Marter, MD, MPH, a neonatologist with expertise in newborn cardiopulmonary disorders. The NICU is co-directed by Drs. Terri Gorman and Michael Prendergast. Dr. Inder and her leadership team head a team of neonatologists, pediatricians, pediatric hospitalists, nurses and other allied health professionals who provide highly-skilled care to preterm and critically ill babies.
Your newborn will receive individualized, specialty care from a dedicated NICU team that will help your baby grow and thrive while they are in the hospital. This comprehensive team will guide you through your newborn’s stay in the NICU, communicating and educating you about your baby’s progress, teaching you about our efforts to overcome medical challenges, and providing resources to educate and support you through this difficult time.
The primary members of your baby’s health care team include:
- Neonatologist: A neonatologist is a pediatrician who specializes in caring for sick babies. An attending neonatologist will oversee all of your baby’s care in the NICU and will examine your baby each day.
- Neonatology Fellow: A neonatology fellow is a pediatrician who is completing additional training to be a neonatologist.
- Pediatric Resident: A pediatric resident is a physician who is receiving pediatric training in our hospital. The fellow and the resident will care for your baby under the direction of the attending neonatologist.
- NICU Pediatric Hospitalist: A NICU Pediatric Hospitalist is a pediatrician working in the NICU providing direct care to NICU patients.
- Registered Nurse: A registered nurse (RN) who specializes in the care of newborns will be assigned to care for your baby. Each NICU baby has his or her primary team of NICU nurses, though your baby and family will meet and work with many others.
- Nurse Practitioner (NP): A nurse practitioner is an advance practice nurse who has received additional masters or doctoral level education and training. In the NICU, the NP works under the supervision of a neonatologist.
- Physician’s Assistant (PA): A physician’s assistant is a medical provider who is licensed to diagnose and treat illness and disease and prescribe medication for patients. In the NICU, the PA works under the supervision of a neonatologist.
Other important members of your baby’s health care team will include dietitians, respiratory therapists, developmental specialists (such as physical and occupational therapists), pharmacists, social workers, NICU family support representatives, nurse practitioners, and other pediatric specialists.
Learn more about the following BWH services for infants and families:
- Nutrition services
- Pharmacy services
- Developmental therapy
- Growth and development unit
- Social services team
Breast milk provides essential nutrients and other factors that protect against infection, and offers other important benefits to your baby's growth and development. Some babies in the NICU are not ready to drink by mouth right after birth. The lactation specialists and NICU nurses instruct new mothers on pumping their breast milk and storing it for feeding by tube until their baby is ready to breastfeed. Once a baby is able to transition to the breast, our lactation specialists and NICU nurses also assist mothers and babies with positioning and latching onto the breast.
Skin-to-skin, or ‘kangaroo’ care, involves holding your baby against your bare chest to provide extra warmth and promote bonding. This method benefits both baby and the parents. Our NICU staff assists parents in accomplishing this, even when babies are very small or sick, and often helps to relieve the feeling of separation experienced by some parents. Babies who have skin-to-skin contact generally have better breastfeeding success. They may also be calmer, have better blood sugar levels, improved respiratory rates and healthier body temperatures than babies who do not receive skin-to-skin contact.
NICU Reading Program
Hearing their parents’ voices helps a baby’s brain develop. Reading is a great way to offer this brain stimulation. Our program introduces parents to reading favorite childhood books in the NICU to provide this brain stimulation in a way that can be best received by their very small or sick infants.
Information About Your Baby’s Condition
The NICU team will keep you informed about your baby’s care, and you may call or visit the NICU at any time. If you have questions or concerns about your baby’s care, please ask us. Your baby’s nurse or social worker can arrange a family meeting with members of the baby’s health care team to discuss your baby’s diagnosis and treatment plan.
When your baby is ready to be discharged, the attending neonatologist will provide your baby’s pediatrician with detailed medical information about your baby’s NICU stay and coordinate with your pediatrician as needed for ongoing care.
Supportive, Compassionate Care for Families
Supporting families is an important part of the care we provide. Care coordinators assist nurses and social workers in providing families with the information and support they need throughout their stay. They also can assist families in preparing for the transition home. We also offer other services to help families cope during and after their baby’s stay in the NICU.
This page was last modified on 3/10/2017