‘This Is Us’ shines light on NICU babies

Preemie parents and NICU graduate parents everywhere are sharing their stories following Tuesday night’s “This Is Us” episode. In case you haven’t watched it yet, we’ll keep the details to a minimum. But we’re so proud of our own NICU that we want to share those details, in case you don’t already know what makes it unique for our tiny patients and their families.

The NICU at Beacon Children’s Hospital is one of the first in the world to keep families together at every step, which is especially important during the first days of life. That’s right, in the world.

The practice of separating moms from their premature babies for any amount of time was replaced with an innovative model Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Beacon Children’s Hospital in 2017. Studies have shown the benefits of extensive intimate contact between babies born as early as 22 weeks gestation, and their parents, in the first hours of life.

“Our NICU will be the first where mothers who have just delivered can stay in the same room with their NICU baby no matter how premature or sick the baby is,” Robert White, MD, director of the Regional Newborn Program, said about the new home for Beacon Children’s Hospital when it opened.

If you or someone you know spent any time in the old NICU, this is a completely different experience.

The NICU team expects high-risk babies will have fewer complications, better neurodevelopment and a shorter length of stay as a result of the increased human contact that is fostered in our new NICU model. Our single-family rooms are designed to reduce parental stress, improve parental bonding, provide a private environment that enhances breastfeeding and kangaroo care and supports families to directly participate in their baby’s care.

“I think our unit will be a model for our colleagues everywhere,” Dr. White said at the opening. “Eventually it will become a standard of care throughout the developed world.”

. Share your own NICU story on our Facebook page at facebook.com/beaconhealth or email gro.metsyshtlaehnocaeb@maeBehT.