Neonatal Nurses Day
Posted on September 12 2018
September 15th is Neonatal Nurses Day, and in honor of this important day, Mountainside Medical Equipment would like to honor the vital care that these nurses provide. A neonatal nurse's job is demanding and multifaceted, and involves caring for some of the most fragile patients imaginable: newborn infants.
The Facts About Neonatal Care
It will come as no surprise that care for newborns immediately after birth, as well as regular checkups during the neonatal period, is highly recommended by health organizations. This period, especially in the days immediately following birth, is the most crucial in ensuring the safety and comfort of an infant. Quality care and intervention during this period is proven to reduce rates of infant mortality.
- Most health issues facing newborns are due to preterm birth, intrapartum complications, or infection.
- Globally 1 in 5 births is not attended by a skilled health care practitioner.
- Only 59 percent of mothers and 1 in 3 (34 percent of newborns) receive a postnatal check within the recommended period.
- Around 40,000 low-weight infants are born annually in the United States.
- Neonatal survival rates have increased tenfold in the U.S. in the past 15 years.
- Infant mortality rates have reduced by 50 percent worldwide since 1990.
- The World Health Organization recommends postnatal care within 24 hours of birth, as well as at least 3 additional visits during the first 6 weeks.
What Does a Neonatal Nurse Do?
These nurses specialize in caring for newborn infants, but relatively few are Level I specialists, or those who care for healthy newborns. The majority are Level II or Level III specialists. Level II neonatal nurses provide care to newborns delivered prematurely or suffering an illness that requires immediate care. Level III nurses staff the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). As you can imagine, both of these levels require an extremely delicate level of care.
The neonatal period is considered to be the first month after birth, but infants requiring Level II and especially Level III care sometimes remain in the hospital for many weeks or months beyond that. Level II infants typically require care designed to support growth. This often requires methods such as intravenous fluid administration, specialized feeding, oxygen therapy, and medications. These infants may be premature or ill and require reaching a certain level of maturation before it's safe for them to leave the hospital environment.
If Level II care is delicate, Level III care is critical. The newborns in the NICU may be extremely ill. Many of them were born very prematurely or suffer from serious congenital defects, as well as infection, cardiac malformation, and surgical issues. These infants require not only specialized attention, but also specialized equipment and procedures, such as ventilators, incubators, and even surgery.
The demands placed on neonatal nurses are many. Even beyond maintaining the health of newborns who may be suffering from serious illness or struggling to grow and develop, these nurses build a bridge between parents and the specialists (neonatologists and pediatricians) who oversee care of infants. Nurses act as advocates for parents and help them better understand and be involved in their child's treatment. They serve as emotional support for families as well as constantly monitor the condition and development of their infants. In shouldering the responsibilities of both medical care for newborns and emotional care for families, neonatal nurses provide a vital service during a difficult recovery period.
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