{Professional Insight} Fostering a Positive Parent-Patient-NICU Nurse Relationship

September 15, 2012

Lisa Davenport, RNMy daughter was born premature and my family’s NICU journey taught me many lessons about the kind care I want other families to have during a NICU stay. I’m hopeful the lessons I learned, both positive and negative, as a NICU mom and nurse will allow you to have the best possible experience in a very difficult time in your life.

  1. Never be afraid to ask questions; you are your child’s only advocate. Ask where we are taking your baby, what we are doing, etc. Never be afraid to ask. My daughter was on the ventilator for a week and it wasn’t until day five that anyone offered to let me hold my baby, I did not know this was an option!
  2. You are still the parent although many times you may not feel in control. I am an advocate of, as soon as possible, to let parents hold their infant. Always ask! The worst the nurses can tell you is “no.” There are some circumstances in which we cannot let parents hold their child, but please ask. Don’t let the tubes and wires discourage you. Even if holding is not an option, ask to touch your precious baby, babies love their parents touch.
  3. Many times nurses talk in “NICU language” – A’s and B’s, pulse ox, ABG. Please ask the nurse to slow down and explain these things to you, we are not doing it on purpose! Nurses want parents to understand.
  4. It’s okay to ask about the plan of care for your baby. As the parent, ask to speak to the doctor or nurse practitioner so that you may be informed of what the physician has planned.
  5. Every nurse, doctor and nurse practitioner all have different personalities. Some medical professionals you’ll make an instant connection, but always remember we are a team with a common goal: getting your baby home to you.
  6. If you find a nurse which you particularly bond with, you can ask them to be a primary nurse for your baby. As a primary nurse that means that every time that nurse works, she will care for your baby. This is so rewarding for the families and nurses, it provides continuity of care and someone to advocate for your baby even when you are not there. That nurse knows what is normal for your child and the little quirks that make that baby unique. Nurses can also ask a family to serve as their child’s primary nurse. We fall in love with our babies often! I always feel honored to serve as someone’s primary nurse and I know one of your  nurses will, too. When I am taking care of your baby, I understand that the child is your hopes and dreams, coming to full fruition. I do not take my job lightly. I love what I do and hope to offer some peace and excellent care to the amazing families in which God places me in their lives.

Being a professional in the world of the NICU is a dream I have had for a very long time. Little did I know that I would be placed in the world as a parent of a very sick baby before I was led to be a NICU Nurse. My daughter was born at 35 weeks and very sick with an infection. Her first week was touch and go as to her future survival. Due to her NICU stay and the continued effects of prematurity (seven years of physical and occupational therapy), I have a very unique perspective on the amazing relationship that a NICU nurse can have with parents.

Guest Blogger

Davenport familyLisa Davenport RN, MSN is a NICU nurse at Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin, Texas. She is also on faculty with Texas Tech University Health Science Center as an Instructor/Retention Counselor for the Second Degree Nursing Program in Austin. She teaches Maternity and Pediatrics. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science and obtained her nursing degree in the Alternate Entry Nursing Program at the University of Texas where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Master’s of Science in Maternity Nursing. She started her career at Dell Children’s where she continues to work today. Lisa and her husband have two children, McKenzie (8) and Benjamin (3).