More than 40,000 premature births occur in the United States each year and the rate has been increasing for more than 15 years. This is largely due to advances in the medical field and the care of neonatal doctors and nurses. Here we will explain why neonatal nursing is important for the survival and care of the premature baby.
Neonatal nurses are intrinsically important professionals in the care of newborns. They care for premature and sick babies in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), emergency and delivery rooms. They become the link between physicians and the families of premature infants, offering support and strength when needed.
Importance of Neonatology
A baby must spend nine months developing in its mother’s womb. In that period, their organs must mature and bodies must develop to live on their own in the outside world. When a baby is born prematurely, its bodies are usually not ready to cope with the outside world on their own.
The lungs, heart, stomach and skin may need help and support to survive. The Neonatology specialist is the one who provides the specialized care these newborns need. In other cases, a premature baby may have other medical conditions that need to be treated by a neonatologist.
Some premature babies are often born with congenital diseases or problems that need special care. Neonatal professionals are trained to care for these babies and can coordinate treatment with other specialists to ensure that they receive proper care.
Occasionally, expectant mothers may have a medical condition or require a cesarean section in the event of a difficult delivery. In some of these cases, it is the neonatologist, neonatal nurse or a highly trained neonatal physician assistant who can provide the delivery care you need.
They are also the ones to address any problems that may compromise the baby’s health.
Why are Neonatal Nurses important?
Any parent whose baby was born prematurely and spent time in the NICU knows from their own experience how important neonatal nurses were in the care and survival of their baby. A baby born prematurely may come into the world with cardiac malformations, birth defects or in need of critical care.
Neonatal nurses are the nursing professionals who are prepared to monitor and provide appropriate therapies, educate and support parents, and respond to emergencies. In addition, they must be comfortable with the technological equipment needed to provide priority care for complex cases.
They are nursing professionals who need ongoing training to obtain certification in Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing or the CCRN (Neonatal) credential. This prepares neonatal nurses to provide the care a critically ill newborn needs based on observable evidence.
What knowledge and skills do Neonatal Nurses have?
Neonatal nurses must have a solid understanding of the different life-support systems of our body. This goes through oxygenation and acid homeostasis, nutrition, thermoregulation, fluids and electrolytes, development and drug therapies.
Babies cared for by a neonatal nurse can be very sick and are completely dependent on physicians to keep them alive. But unfortunately, not all NICU babies go home with their parents. Some do not survive despite receiving all the care they need.
It is the NICU nurses who are charged with supporting families through making difficult decisions about discontinuing care and the death of their babies. It is the neonatal nurse who helps parents with the grieving process, or preparing to take the newborn home.
The challenges that Neonatal Nurses face in their work
A neonatal nurse requires a lot of technical skills, but they also need to have a lot of compassion and empathy in their day-to-day work. Compassion for each of their patients and their families, for their co-workers and even for themselves. It also implies that you must have fortitude in the face of the loss of a patient.
Taking care of your own emotional needs is part of the equation on your list of priorities. It’s what helps keep their minds healthy, as well as physically healthy. Doing so is what benefits those around them as well as your own self-care.
The best of being a Neonatal Nurse
By now we’ve all read how premature babies face many problems at birth, from being sick to developing a number of complications after birth. It’s a job that can be stressful, but it also comes with many rewards in caring for such vulnerable little beings.
Here are some of the best things about being a neonatal nurse:
- They give a helpless, fragile baby a better chance at life.
- They prove to be the most reliable support for families who have a premature or intensive care infant.
- They teach parents how to prepare to care for their babies at home.
- The more experience a neonatal nurse gains, the more experienced she becomes, as does her career path.
- Their work becomes increasingly important and better paid across the country.
The work of neonatal nurses in caring for and preserving the lives of infants born prematurely and suffering from complications after delivery is becoming increasingly important. Neonatal nurses have become the link between the families and physicians of preterm infants.
The support and encouragement they offer to the families of these infants is extremely important to the lives of both patients and families. It is neonatal nursing that provides the specialized help they need to help them live.