Navigating early parenthood is challenging but what happens when you things don't begin like you planned? Wha
A NICU admission is inherently stressful and difficult for many families to bear. Often, a NICU admission is completely unexpected. The separation of mother and child, along with a baby’s critical health care needs, can be traumatic. Social workers are uniquely equipped to serve the needs of both the medical team and the family. The role of the social worker in the NICU is to strengthen and empower families, encourage family resilience, and promote positive developmental outcomes for babies through assessment, advocacy, and support. Throughout a baby’s NICU stay, social workers continually work with families to assess for postpartum depression, develop coping strategies, and assist with bonding with the new baby. In the hospital, we can advocate for families by acting as a bridge between the family and the medical team. Social workers facilitate family meetings, help families articulate the questions that they have to the team, and help identify and correct communication breakdown between the provider and the family. Social workers also act as advocates by ensuring that a family has access to all community resources that may be beneficial for the family or the baby. ometimes, this means providing supportive counseling, anticipatory guidance, or reminding a family of their strengths. Other times, this means validating and normalizing a family’s feelings, providing a safe space for a family to vent, or helping a family to process their NICU experience.
As a social worker, I strive to meet families where they are at. In the NICU, families can experience a range of emotions—feeling thrilled that their new baby is here, being terrified about their baby’s medical status, being anxious and uncomfortable in the ICU environment, being angry at the loss of a hoped-for birth experience, being confused by medical lingo and NICU procedures, and being excited to take their baby home. No matter what a family is going through, I hope to be an empowering and helpful presence as I support them with my clinical skills and knowledge.