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How to Use Our NICU Journey

How to use Our NICU Journey Daily Notes

Welcome! Our NICU Journey is designed to help make it easier for you to keep track of all of the information parents like to keep track of.  This is how the daily tracking pages are designed to be used:

Daily NICU journal page sample 1.png

Here are a couple examples:

Sample #1 - 3 day old baby who is 29 weeks, 2 days gestational age

Daily NICU journal page sample 2.png

sample #2 - 32 day old baby who is now 35 weeks, 4 days gestational age

sample NICU journal diary entry 3.png
 

Here's how many families use the "Thoughts of the Week" page to document more thoughts & feelings, as well as using the space for adding weekly baby photos

Thoughts of the week NICU preemie journal page.png

 

common shorthand for the nicu

Sometimes it's easier to write all this stuff down with the help of a few shorthand abbreviations. Here are some of the most common NICU abbreviations:

  • A’s & B’s - apnea and bradycardia
  • AC - before meals
  • Ad lib - as desired
  • BID - Twice a day
  • Brady - low (usually refers to bradycardia which is low heart rate)
  • CC - cubic centimeter (for most NICU purposes, 1 g = 1 ml = 1 cc)
  • CO2 - Carbon Dioxide
  • DBM - donor breast milk
  • DC - discontinue
  • EBM - expressed breast milk
  • ETT - endotracheal tube (breathing tube when on the ventilator)
  • g - gram (for most NICU purposes, 1 g = 1 ml = 1 cc)
  • gtt - drops (i.e.: drops of milk)
  • HOB - head of bed (i.e.: when baby’s head of bed is elevated)
  • hyper - above or high
  • hypo - below or low
  • kg - kilogram
  • lb or # - pound
  • ml - milliliter (for most NICU purposes, 1 g = 1 ml = 1 cc)
  • NG - nasogastric (tube in the nose that goes to baby’s stomach)
  • OG - orogastric (tube in the mouth that goes to baby’s stomach)
  • OT - occupational therapy
  • oz - ounce
  • PC - after meals
  • PO - by mouth
  • PRN - as needed
  • PT - physical therapy
  • Q - every (i.e. a med given every 3 hours would be written Q3 hours)
  • QID - four times a day
  • QO - every other 
  • TID - Three times a day
  • UA - urinalysis
  • VS - vital signs
  • w/ - with

Common NICU Terms

ANEMIA

Fewer than the normal number of red blood cells in the blood.

APNEA

Stopping of breathing.

ASPHYXIA

A lack of sufficient oxygen to the tissues of the body. 

ASPIRATION

Breathing in a foreign material into the lungs.

BAGGING

Filling the lungs with air or oxygen by squeezing a bag which is connected to an endotracheal tube or attached to a mask fitted over the face, allowing caregivers to deliver breaths to the baby.

BILILIGHTS (Phototherapy)

Blue lights used in the treatment of jaundice.

BLOOD GASES

The amounts of oxygen, carbon dioxide and acidity in the blood. 

BLOOD PRESSURE (BP)

The pressure of the blood in the arteries with each pulse of the heart.

BRADYCARDIA

An abnormally slow heart rate.

CBC (Complete Blood Count)

A count of the various types of cells present in the blood, including: red cells (for carrying oxygen), white cells (for fighting infection), and platelets (for prevention of bleeding).

CENTRAL CATHETER or CENTRAL LINE

A thin, flexible tube (catheter) placed in a larger vein or artery to deliver medications or necessary fluids and nutrients to the body. 

CHEST TUBE

A small plastic tube placed through the chest wall into the space between the lung and chest wall to remove air or fluid from this space. 

CONGENITAL

Existing at the time of birth.

CPAP

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure - a form of ventilator assistance which helps to keep the baby's lungs properly expanded. Frequently used with water to create "bubble CPAP." 

CT SCAN

Computerized x-rays which show the size and position of many parts of the brain. A CT scan also can be done on other parts of the body.

CULTURE

A laboratory test of blood, spinal fluid, urine, or other specimens which shows if germs are present and which ones they are.

CYANOSIS

Blue color of the skin occurring when there is not enough oxygen in the blood.

ECHOCARDIOGRAM (ECHO)

An exam done to look at the heart using soundwaves through the chest wall. Similar to an ultrasound done during pregnancy.

EDEMA

"Puffy" skin from a build-up of fluid in body tissues.

ENDOTRACHEAL TUBE (ET Tube)

A plastic tube which goes from the baby's nose or mouth past the vocal cords and into the upper trachea (windpipe).

EXTUBATION

Removal of a tube which has been placed through the nose or mouth into the trachea.

GASTROSTOMY

A surgically created opening in the abdominal wall to provide nutrition directly into the stomach.

GAVAGE FEEDINGS

Feedings delivered by a small plastic tube placed through the nose  or mouth and down into the stomach.

HEART MURMUR

A rushing sound made by the blood within the heart, usually heard with a stethoscope. 

HEELSTICK

A quick prick of the heel with a sterile instrument (much like a finger prick) to obtain small blood samples for tests.

HEMATOCRIT (crit)

A test done to determine if the amount of red blood cells in the blood is adequate.

HYDROCEPHALUS

An abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain.

HYPERBILIRUBINEMIA

An elevated level of bilirubin in the blood, also called jaundice.

HYPOGLYCEMIA

A low amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood.

INTRAVENOUS (IV)

A small plastic tube or hollow metal needle placed into one of the baby's veins, through which fluids, sugar, and minerals can be given when the baby cannot take all of his nourishment by feedings.

INTRAVENTRICULAR HEMORRHAGE (IVH)

A collection of blood in and around the ventricles of the brain.

INTUBATION

Placing an endotracheal tube in the baby's trachea. 

JAUNDICE

A yellow coloration of the skin and eyes caused by increased amounts of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a break-down product of red blood cells; it is processed and excreted by the liver. 

LUMBAR PUNCTURE ("Spinal Tap")

A procedure in which a small needle is placed in the small of the back, between the vertebrae (back bones), to obtain spinal fluid for bacterial cultures and other tests.

MECONIUM

The first bowel movements that a baby has which are thick, sticky, and dark green to black in color.

MECONIUM ASPIRATION

The inhalation of meconium into the lungs. If a baby passes meconium before delivery, the meconium may be inhaled into the lungs, causing problems with breathing after the baby is born.

MENINGITIS

Infection of the fluid that cushions and surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

A computerized method of viewing any portion of the body. It uses magnetism rather than x-rays. 

NASAL CANNULA

A clear plastic tube which passes under the nose to provide supplemental oxygen.

NECROTIZING ENTEROCOLITIS (NEC)

An infection of the wall of the intestines, which may spread to the blood. 

NEONATOLOGY

The medical specialty concerned with diseases of newborn infants (neonates). Neonatologists are pediatricians who have received several years of additional training.

NPO

Nothing to be given by mouth.

PARENTERAL NUTRITION (also called Total Parenteral Nutrition, or TPN)

Fluid, protein and sometimes fats (lipids) given along with sugars and salts by vein when the baby cannot tolerate complete feedings by nipple or gavage.

PATENT DUCTUS ARTERIOSUS (PDA)

A small vessel which allows blood to bypass the lungs. This vessel is open while the baby is in the womb, but normally closes shortly after delivery. If the vessel fails to close on its own, special medication or surgery may be needed.

PEAK INSPIRATORY PRESSURE (PIP)

The highest pressure that is delivered to the baby by the ventilator during a forced breath.

PHOTOTHERAPY

A treatment in which the baby is placed under bright lights (frequently blue in color) or on a special light blanket which helps bilirubin to be excreted into the intestine.

PICC LINE

Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter. See CENTRAL LINE

PNEUMOTHORAX

Leakage of air from the normal passageways of the lung into the space surrounding the lung inside the chest wall, causing a partial or complete collapse of the lung.

POSITIVE END-EXPIRATORY PRESSURE (PEEP)

On a ventilator, this is the lowest pressure that is delivered by the ventilator to the baby between forced breaths. On CPAP it is the baseline pressure delivered.

PROGNOSIS

What is expected in the future.

RED BLOOD CELLS

The cells in the blood which carry oxygen.

REFLUX

Backward flow; gastroesophageal (GE) reflux occurs when portions of feedings or other stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus.

RESPIRATORY DISTRESS SYNDROME (RDS)

A common breathing problem experienced by premature infants, caused by insufficient surfactant in the baby's lung, resulting in excessive stiffness of the baby's lungs.

SEIZURE

Abnormal electrical activity in the brain, sometimes causing involuntary muscle activity or stiffening. 

SEPSIS

Infection of the blood.

SEPTIC WORKUP

An variety of tests performed on an infant who is suspected of having an infection. This may include x-rays as well as labs including blood, urine, and spinal fluid cultures. 

SURFACTANT

A material secreted by special cells within the alveoli (air sacs) of the lung, which makes the lung flexible and helps to keep the lung from collapsing. Deficiency of surfactant is the main problem in Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS). Commercial products are available which can be put into the lungs through the tube in the windpipe. These products frequently are very helpful to the premature baby with RDS.

TRANSFUSION

Giving donated blood by vein or artery.

UMBILICAL CATHETER

A small plastic tube in one of the umbilical blood vessels, either the umbilical vein or artery.