Information for Parents

Parenting in the NICU

When a baby is born prematurely or with serious medical complications, parents often feel helpless, overwhelmed, and anxious.

At UVA, parents are a valuable member of their baby's health care team. Parents participate in the medical rounds each day in the NICU. This means when doctors, residents, nurses, respiratory therapists and medical students come to the baby's station to discuss care and treatment, parents join in.

The NICU is open to parents 24 hours per day. You may visit any time it's convenient for you. There may be times when the NICU is unavailable due to procedures or interventions, but we try to do our best to accommodate all families.

Parents may also bring family members and friends to the bedside. Siblings may visit with parents. We ask that any person with a fever or symptoms of an infection stay outside the NICU.

The NICU has the Klockner Family Suite available for parents to "room-in" and take care of their child before discharge. These rooms, with a private bathroom, fridge, bed and television, allow parents to care for their baby with the added benefit of knowing that staff are nearby if questions or concerns arise.

We welcome suggestions and ideas about the care of your baby. Get suggestions on parenting a baby in the NICU.


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Online Resources and Web-Based Articles


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Breastmilk is so important to babies, especially premature and sick infants who receive many health benefits from mother's milk.

Some benefits of breast milk are:

  • Promotes growth
  • Digested easily, promoting the maturity of baby's digestive system
  • Provides antibodies to help reduce the risk of infection

New moms who already are dealing with the stress and anxiety of having a child in the NICU may find it stressful to build their milk supply by pumping. Our board-certified lactation consultants (health care professionals trained to help mothers with breastfeeding issues) offer special help to new moms who want to provide breastmilk for their NICU babies.

Our consultants can help new moms find a quality breastpump, educate on how to pump breastmilk and offer emotional support.

The NICU has a "Mother’s Milk Lounge," a comfortable breastmilk pumping room available to mothers, which has snacks and a television. Mothers also are welcome to pump at baby's bedside.


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Protection of Privacy and Confidentiality

Since you may not be able to always be with your infant while in the NICU we have developed the following guidelines to protect your family’s and baby’s privacy and uphold confidentiality. As your baby’s parents and/or guardians you will be given your baby’s UVA medical history number that you will use when calling and visiting. We also ask that parents and/or guardians carry some form of identification with them when visiting.

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