Criteria for discharge include:
- 35 weeks of gestation or over.
- 1.8kg or 4lbs
- Able to maintain stable body temperature.
- Feeding well and not dependent on IV fluids or tube-feeds. Completing feeds within 20/30 minutes.
- Gaining weight steadily.
- Not receiving medications that require hospital management.
- No recent major changes in medications or oxygen administration.
The Discharge Planning Coordinator on the unit will help you prepare for bringing your infant home. Upon discharge parents must be proficient in performing baby cares e.g feeding, positioning, bathing, changing and administering the infant’s medications. Every unit provides families with Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation education prior to discharge. Parents should ensure that they request a copy of their infant’s growth charge prior to discharge showing the recent growth measurements. Upon discharge families are provided with a prescription for the medications and/or formula that their infant requires *** and details of the follow-up appointments in the Out-Patients Dept (OPD). Weight checks are carried out by the Public Health Nurse (who will be advised of your infants discharge home by the NICU staff) or GP and appointments for eye examinations and hearing tests may also be provided. It is very important that all appointments are kept.
***Ask the Discharge Planning Coordinator if your infant qualifies for an “Individual Exempt Medicinal Product Reimbursement Request Application”- a HSE form signed by your infant’s paediatrician which will enable you to obtain your infant’s formula without charge.
Tips for the Homecoming
- Keep room temperatures at around 18C.
- Maintain a smoke free zone around your infant.
- Limit visitors to the house.
- Do not expose your infant to visitors with a cold or fly symptoms.
- Limit handling of your infant by visitors.
- Do not over-dress your infant.
- Hand washing is very important in preventing infection.
- Clean toys, work surfaces and highchairs regularly.
- Do not allow siblings who attend crèche or school to over handle your infant.
- Be aware of RSV Season (October to March).
- Avoid plane journeys before 6 months of age or during flu season.
- If your infant is born from October to March it may be necessary for those caring for your infant to receive the flu vaccine.
- Wait for 30 minutes after a feed before travelling outside the house.
- Do not use duvets, quilts, pillows and bumper pads for the first year of life.
- Do not leave toys or teddies in the cot.
- Always position the infant on his/her back to sleep.
- Vary the infant’s head position to avoid positional plagiocephaly.
- Place the infants feet to the foot of the cot, basket or pram so that they cannot wriggle down under the covers.
- Do not fall asleep in bed with your baby if they were born prematurely or had a birth weight below 2.5 kg or 5.5lbs.
Professional Help In The Home Place
Taking your baby home from the hospital after many months can be a daunting experience. The whole dynamic of the caregiving process now shifts from the medical team to you, the parents and many families benefit from availing of the services of experienced healthcare professionals who care for neonates and multiples in the home place and help families transition from the NICU to home.
Susan King is a experienced midwife with over 20 years experience caring for babies in the Neonatal setting and the home place. Susan is available to help families in the greater Dublin/Wicklow areas establish feeding and sleeping patterns, manage the additional needs and challenges associated with prematurity and multiple birth and offer guidance and advice when required. Susan is also available to give families a much needed nights sleep. Susan can be contacted through the INHA or directly on (087-6737500)