NICU Babies Need Both Their Parents

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No parent has the NICU in their birth plan. We certainly didn’t, but we ended up spending weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of our hospital after our baby was born via an unexpected urgent c-section in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.  

The doctor and nurses at our hospital saved our baby’s life, and we are so grateful to them. But the hospital’s coronavirus policies are making an already distressing situation even harder for us. Our hospital, like so many across the country, only allows one parent to visit a baby in the NICU in a 24 hour period. This means we are never able to visit our baby together, and in spite of the fact that my wife and I are co-habitating. If one of us has the coronavirus, the other surely does. What difference would it make if we entered the NICU together or separately?

These NICU policies are harming babies and parents, and doing little to prevent the spread of the virus. Join us in asking Governor Newsom to require NICUs to allow parents to visit their newborn babies together.

Forcing parents to bond with their baby alone, often while healing from birth or major surgery, is bad for families. It increases the risks of postpartum depression and lack of attachment of a baby while placing the burden disproportionately on women. To split up a team who had carried a birth through Covid-19 and had undergone the shock of an urgent c-section and a baby in the NICU does not make logical sense.

It is also medically important that premature NICU babies attach with their parents to meet critical development milestones to then be discharged from the NICU.

Instead of celebrating this experience together, my wife and I are either sitting alone with our baby or awaiting the other in the hospital parking lot. Can you imagine trying to pump breast milk in a parking lot while healing from a c-section? Or trying to retain information about how to care for your newborn while sleep-deprived and without your partner to help fill in the gaps?

We would like to see higher coronavirus protections and an elimination of the One Parent Only Visitors policy. Tell Governor Newsom that California’s parents deserve effective, evidence-based coronavirus policies which support healthy babies and families.