Every shift begins with us donning a facemask on entering the hospital before changing into our uniforms, and making our way into the handover office. At 7.30am those of us starting shift get a brief handover from the previous nurse in charge. It is here that we find out if we will be in ITU or Special Care and who we are looking after that day. For continuity of care we try to look after the same patients, this allows us to build a relationship with the family and also the baby; their likes and dislikes.
A typical shift for me is in Intensive Care. I start by receiving individual handover at the bed side from the previous nurse before calculating their fluids, checking drugs charts and getting any added information. My first job is to check the emergency safety equipment and ensuring that there is an emergency space set and ready to go in case a baby needs our help and is admitted to the unit. I then work my day around the ever changing needs of the baby and when the baby’s parents will be on the unit so that I can assist them with providing nappy changes, feeds and baths etc. The doctors then carry out ward round which parents are encouraged to stay for. During the pandemic we haven’t been able to have family other than the parents visiting which is tough for us a unit. However, we do all we can to meet the family’s needs too. During the day we might have to help with eye checks and hearing screens as well as help with xrays and support the SALT team during an assessment. I always try and get the babies out for a long period of skin to skin if the parents wish as it really helps the babies regulate their temperature and oxygen saturation to name a few; the benefits are unbelievable. On Wednesday and Sunday we weigh all the babies in the unit. I always try and wait for parents to be there before weighing as it is a huge moment when a baby is over 1kg or hits the 2kg mark!
Throughout the whole day I am listening out to the monitors and attending to any alarms, I am watching their heart rates and respiratory rates making sure they are staying within the limits, I am ensuring that babies are tolerating their milk and being an advocate for them when needed. During the shift I will find time to have my lunch and a quick cup of tea before heading back onto the ward and continue caring for these amazing tiny humans! Every day is different and isn’t without its struggles and challenges, especially at the moment with COVID-19, but every day I feel the luckiest person to be able to do what I do.
A little about why you got into your profession:
Ever since I can remember I have wanted to be a neonatal nurse. My mum unfortunately experienced the loss of a 28 week baby and having talked about it openly with me, it sparked a desire to want to do more. Every year of my training I asked for a placement in NICU; luckily I got a 5 week placement which ended with me asking if I could also do my 12 week consolidation placement there- I instantly fell in love with the job and knew I was just meant to be a Neonatal Nurse caring for these precious babies and their families.
What do you love about your job:
I love absolutely everything about my job from helping give babies their first bath to seeing them gain weight each week and progress through the unit. My most favourite part of my job is helping parents hold their baby skin to skin for the first time. Being able to reunite the family and watch as they relax and enjoy cuddles with their new baby is the most amazing and rewarding feeling ever!