How to Help NICU Parents: 5 Ways to Show Support

If someone you know has a baby (or babies!) in the NICU, or you want to be prepared just in case, you’ve come to the right place. Today, I’m sharing tips for how to help NICU parents.

Our twin girls came into this world 8 weeks (and 1 day!) prematurely. Josephine weighed 3 pounds, 9 ounces at birth, and spent 21 days in NICU. Margo weighed 4 pounds, 6 ounces at birth, and spent 20 days in NICU.

Their time in NICU was short compared to many others, and the care they received was amazing.  Regardless, it was an emotional and trying journey.

My husband went back to work so that he could spend time with the girls when they came home.

We struggled with balancing work, caring for our just-turned-two-year-old, Theo, and visiting the girls.

I  also had to pump every three hours. There were days that I didn’t go to the hospital to see the girls until Theo was in bed.

I felt immensely guilty about this. Josie and Margo were teeny tiny little things, in their incubators, needing their mommy, and I wouldn’t show up until 8:00 at night!

We had amazing family and friends who were by our side and really supported us, and I’m so grateful that we didn’t have to go through this experience on our own.

It can be difficult to know what to do in this situation, so I’ve outlined a few things that really helped us. Here is my best advice for how to help NICU parents!

1.  Be Encouraging

The guilt, oh the guilt! I felt so much guilt that my babies were in NICU.

Maybe my water wouldn’t have broken early if I hadn’t cleaned the kitchen that day.  Maybe my contractions would have stopped if I drank more water.

While I was on bedrest I wished with every fiber of my being that I could be home with my son.  Maybe if I hadn’t so desperately wanted to go home, the babies would have stayed put.

When I visited the babies in NICU, I felt guilty leaving my two-year-old (who had just been without his mommy for two weeks).

I felt guilty when I was at home with Theo because I wasn’t with my premature babies.

When I was pumping milk, I felt guilty that I wasn’t present with any of my children.  If I missed a pumping session because I was spending time with the kids, I felt guilty for that!

You can send encouraging texts or cards letting the family know that they are doing a great job and that their babies are lucky to have them.

Related Posts You’ll Like

Guilt as a Twin Mom and How to Overcome it

The One Thing Every NICU Mom Needs to Hear

how to help a nicu family

2.  Be Specific

I was so emotionally overwhelmed that I lacked the capacity to make decisions.  Sending a text that says “what can I do to help?” might have good intentions, but they honestly overwhelmed me more than helped.

To help NICU parents, give examples of the tasks you are willing to do, and the days you are available to do it.

“I am free Tuesday and Thursday. I can watch the kids while you visit the babies in NICU, and I can drop off dinner on Friday.  Let me know what helps the most.”

You can always add an ‘or anything else you may need’ to the end of your text in case there is something else you could do.

I had several friends send me texts like this and almost cried from happiness.  It takes the legwork out of planning for me, and the emotional effort of having to make a decision.

how to help nicu parents

Here are a few specific tasks you can offer to do:

  • Watch the older children while parents visit NICU
  • Offer to drive older children to and from school and extracurricular activities
  • Grocery shop
  • Set up the nursery
  • Buy diapers or preemie clothes
  • Take care of any pets
  • Household work: wash dishes, do laundry, etc.
  • Cook dinner or drop off takeout
  • Yardwork: shovel snow, cut the grass, etc.

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