NICU Redesigned with Families in Mind

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 4, 2016

As families step off the elevator and enter the newly redesigned Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), they walk through a welcoming open space with natural light and views of the outdoors.

Comforting and family-centered Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH)

Comforting and family-centered Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH)

Creating a comforting and family-centered environment is important in a unit that cares for premature infants, says Dr. Terri Gorman, a neonatologist and Co-Medical Director of the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, which cares for approximately 3,000 premature and sick infants and their families each year.

“Having a premature baby that needs special medical care can be stressful, and many of the parents who enter the NICU are first-time parents,” says Dr. Gorman, which is one of the reasons why the new facility offers a more open and welcoming environment for families and their babies.

After greeting a friendly unit coordinator at the front desk, families can walk from their baby’s room to the family lounge area or to the outdoor patio. With no restrictions on visitation, family members can also sleepover on the pull-out sofa in their infant’s room, and mothers can breastfeed in privacy and store milk in their room’s private refrigerator. Families can even attend daily rounds with the medical staff, if they want. Read More »

Reading to Preterm Babies May Have Long Term Benefits

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 2, 2016

By reading to their babies, parents are not only bonding with them and reducing some of the stress of being in the NICU, but they’re also aiding in their children’s brain development.

By reading to their babies in the NICU, parents are aiding in their children’s brain development.

During a newborn’s time in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), critical brain development is occurring, including the development of the pathways that control language skills. By reading to their babies, parents are not only bonding with them and reducing some of the stress of being in the NICU, but they’re also aiding in their children’s brain development.

“More than half of babies born at very low birth weight have language delays during childhood,” says Carmina Erdei, MD, a neonatologist in the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). “This is not a coincidence, and there is something we can do about it.”

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Cooling Blankets Help Save Babies’ Lives in the NICU

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 15, 2015

BWH NICU Medical Director Michael Prendergast cares for a baby who is wrapped in a cooling blanket.

BWH NICU Medical Director Michael Prendergast cares for a baby wrapped in a cooling blanket.

Babies and warm blankets often go hand-in-hand, but for some newborns, a cool blanket plays a part in saving their lives.

Within minutes of delivery, baby Annie was unable to breathe on her own and showed signs of an abnormal nervous system. Doctors quickly sprang into action, examining the infant and delivering oxygen to her lungs through a small tube.

This situation came as a shock to Annie’s parents, Heidi and Matt Boucher, because Heidi had experienced a full-term pregnancy with no complications. Annie was transferred to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH),  where her care team explained the benefits that a cooling blanket therapy, called therapeutic hypothermia, could have on their daughter’s life.

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A NICU Homecoming – Twins Return to Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 8, 2015

Twin sisters Alex (left) and Justine Bryar haven't strayed far from their BWH birthplace.

In July 1987, twin sisters Justine and Alexandra Bryar were born at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) at 25 weeks gestation, each weighing only three pounds. For months, their parents visited the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) daily to be with their newborn girls. BWH became a home away from home for nearly the entire first year of their lives.

“There was a little family that formed around us,” said Justine, referring to the physicians and nurses who not only provided life-saving care, but also comforted the family throughout their journey.

Despite their struggles at birth, Justine and Alex grew into healthy young women. Now, years later, they have both rejoined the Brigham family in new ways – Justine as an assistant director for BWH Development and Alex as a primary care medical assistant at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital. Alex dreams of becoming a nurse and working in the NICU someday.

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What’s a NICU Mom Thankful For?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 16, 2014

The boys celebrate their first birthday with NICU nurses Kathy Moran (left) and Mary Ellen Musynski.

The breadth of medical expertise and advanced technology available in a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is invaluable for treating and monitoring babies born with dangerous medical conditions. But helping these babies and their parents involves much more than providing state-of-the-art medical care.

Karyn, a North Shore mother of triplets born at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), is well aware of the scope of care provided in a NICU. She’s thankful for all the people who helped take care of her triplet sons – and her – while the boys recovered in the BWH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the fall of 2012. That includes people she saw nearly every day and people she never saw at all.

Her boys Tyler, Caleb, and Nathan were born at 27 weeks that fall. As expected with any child born that early, they all had issues with lung development, breathing, and feeding.

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Choosing an Obstetrics Provider: The First Decision You’ll Make as a Parent

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 20, 2014

There are few important things to consider before choosing an obstetrics provider for you and your baby.

Long before you start picking out baby names, you will need to make a few other decisions, including who will care for you and your baby during your pregnancy.

Here are a few important things you should consider to ensure that you are making the best decision for you and your family.

Be sure that the provider you choose offers the full range of services that you and your baby will need throughout your pregnancy.

At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, our obstetricians and midwives provide comprehensive consultation and pregnancy care. And, in the event you or your baby needs specialized care, the hospital is home to some of the most advanced world-class programs in gynecology, obstetrics, and newborn care.

The Center for Fetal Medicine and Prenatal Genetics provides comprehensive assessment and treatment of fetal disease, genetic counseling, and fetal ultrasound, working closely with the specialists in the state-of-the-art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), for babies who require intensive, specialized care.

The Newborn Medicine Department, which is staffed by expert neonatologists and other specialists, cares for newborns and is specially equipped to care for infants as young as 23 weeks gestation. Our state-of-the-art, Level-3 NICU is one of the best in the world.

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Defying the Odds: Heart Patient Welcomes New Baby

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 10, 2014

Ali Barton with her newborn son, Ethan.

When Ali Barton, 31, was about 18 weeks pregnant, she began experiencing “bizarre” swelling in her legs, sudden weight fluctuation, and intense nausea after just a few bites of food. Her local care team at the time attributed these symptoms to her pregnancy, but a few weeks later, Ali went to her community emergency department, worried that she may have a virus.

Following an echocardiogram, she was immediately transferred to Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), where a team of high-risk obstetricians and heart failure specialists were intensely focused on her care. Ali previously had been diagnosed with endomyocardial fibrosis, a rare disease that causes a thickening of the walls of the heart, resulting in difficulty pumping and fluid retention.

Ali’s physicians at BWH had never seen a case of endomyocardial fibrosis in a pregnant woman, and with no experience to go on, they were deeply concerned for the health of both Ali and her unborn baby.

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Former NICU Patient and Volunteer Inspired to Become a Nurse

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 3, 2013

Former NICU patient Elizabeth Orsini, pictured at her high school graduation, is ready to attend nursing school this fall.

Elizabeth “Lizzy” Orsini’s ties to Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) began at birth.

In 1995, Lizzy and her twin brother were born prematurely at BWH, at just 30.5 weeks. Her brother did not survive, and Lizzy struggled in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) for six weeks. Her parents remained with Lizzy in the NICU, holding her skin-to-skin on their chests, a practice known as “kangaroo care,” for 10 hours a day until she grew strong enough to go home.

Now, 18 years later, Lizzy, who has been a dedicated volunteer in the NICU throughout high school, is preparing to begin a new chapter in her life as a nursing student at Fitchburg State University in the fall.

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From One Hospital to Another, Brother and Sister Bond

Posted by Blog Administrator April 19, 2012

From One Hospital to Another, Brother and Sister Bond

Amanda (right) used a unique way to communicate with her family at BWH.

In life’s most trying moments, small gestures and coincidences can bring tremendous hope.

That was the case last month, when a family found itself with one daughter at Children’s Hospital Boston with a lung infection at the same time that their newborn son entered the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) next door. By sheer coincidence, the brother and sister found themselves in rooms across the street from one another – with views into each other’s windows. Nurses and staff at both hospitals rallied around the family, making and posting signs in the windows to help big sister Amanda meet and bond with her new brother Zachary.

It all started in March when Lucinda and Sean Murphy brought their 8-year-old daughter Amanda to Children’s Hospital with a lung infection related to cystic fibrosis. Not long after Amanda was admitted to Children’s, Lucinda – pregnant with a baby boy – felt her water break and headed straight to BWH for an emergency delivery. At just 4.5 pounds, baby Zachary soon was moved to the NICU.

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Sneaking Mom Inside the Incubator

Posted by Blog Administrator March 12, 2012

Baby in NICU

Mom’s voice may decrease complications in premature infants.

There’s a difference between surviving and thriving, and it turns out that a mother’s touch – or at least her sounds – can make the difference between one and the other.

According to new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), babies born extremely prematurely (26-32 weeks gestation) have fewer heart and respiratory complications when they are able to hear their own mother’s voice and heartbeat played through a soundtrack into their incubator.

It’s important to note that the research does not address survival rates. The technology and clinical expertise of leading Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs), such as the Brigham and Women’s Hospital NICU, are already highly successful at saving the lives of premature infants. The problem is that because they are underdeveloped, preterm infants experience high rates of lung and heart complications, including apnea (a pause in breathing that lasts longer than 20 seconds ) and bradycardia (periods of significantly slow heart rate).

Like a mother’s womb, NICU incubators regulate temperature and humidity. And highly skilled nurses and care givers ensure that the premature babies receive adequate nutrients, oxygen, and attention. But researcher Amir Lahav, director of the Neonatal Research Lab at BWH, thought something else was missing – the simulation of the maternal sounds that a baby would hear in the womb.

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