Social and Emotional Support for NICU Families

As a parent with a new baby in the NICU, you may find it understandably challenging to manage all of the emotions you experience. It is normal to find yourself dealing with strong feelings that may range from joy and excitement to feelings of helplessness and fear. While your baby is in the NICU it may seem like your life has been turned upside down. You may be away from your family, friends and other children.; Your baby’s hospital stay may affect your work and finances, disrupt your family or make your own recovery harder. All families are encouraged to involve their own personal support network which can include family members, friends, religious or spiritual leaders, community members, or others.

Additionally, all families with an infant in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are offered social work support during their stay at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

NICU Social Services

In addition to support and counseling, NICU social workers can also assist parents with challenges such as getting the baby registered with insurance, arranging for transportation and managing other life challenges.

A NICU social worker will meet with you shortly after your baby is admitted to the NICU. The social worker can help you by providing:

  • Counseling and emotional support
  • Information about additional programs that offer support for parents who have a baby/babies in a NICU
  • Assistance with coping with the stress of having a baby in the NICU
  • Referrals to mental health services if you are worried about how you are feeling
  • Guidance about parenting and helping siblings adjust
  • Assistance with finding resources in the community to help both now and after your baby goes home
  • Help with applying for government benefits such as SSI (Supplemental Security Income, a program of the Social Security Administration) and WIC (Women, Infants and Children)

NICU Social Services Team

  • Susan Berliner, LICSW – Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
  • Marysabel Gomez, LICSW – Multiples Center
  • Kara Belinsky, LICSW – Center for Fetal Medicine
  • Alicia Katz, LICSW, Social Work Manager

Spiritual Care Services

BWH chaplains are here to offer emotional and spiritual support to NICU parents and families. We are here for everyone, without exception, and are grounded in respect for each person’s spiritual and religious preferences as well as their own cultural expressions. We affirm the sources of strength and comfort unique to each individual, and work with you to call these forth.

Our chaplains are trained as interfaith chaplains, but each is rooted in their own tradition. BWH Spiritual Care Services chaplains are Buddhist, Catholic, Humanist, Jewish, Protestant, Muslim and other traditions. We can also facilitate outside clergy visits and are happy to do so. We have relationships with outside clergy of many of the world’s faith traditions, some of whom visit regularly.

Reasons to call a chaplain:

  • To request a baby blessing or a unique ceremony, created with you, to celebrate and honor your little one
  • To arrange for a Bris performed by a Rabbinic Pastor or Jewish chaplain
  • To request a baptism or communion
  • To contact outside clergy for support in your tradition
  • To explore medical choices as they relate to your religious/spiritual values
  • To offer consultations and guidance on religious ethics
  • To listen with compassion and to offer support and friendship at any time
  • Visits may be in-person, by phone, or by Zoom

Learn more about BWH Chaplaincy

To contact us, please ask your nurse to page the on-call chaplain. From outside the hospital, please call the main hospital number at (617) 732-5500 and ask the operator to page the on-call chaplain for you. There is a chaplain in-house 24/7.

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