I mentioned in a post last week that we were fortunate to end up at the hospital that had a good NICU, but I didn’t say that it is not only good, but actually the best neonatal unit in northern Israel. Our experience at this hospital – Western Galilee Nahariya Hospital – has been very positive, and I want to share about some things that we appreciated.
Firstly, the staff in the NICU is warm and supportive as was the staff in the high risk maternity ward, where I stayed for four days after the birth). The NICU has a high ratio of nurses to babies (I don’t know if it’s always like this, but our nurse was responsible for just two babies and when he was in isolation he had his own nurse), and it felt like someone was always watching our baby and making sure things were okay.
The neonatal doctors were very professional, and I was impressed at how available they were. Literally any time I went over to any doctor to find out what the latest with our baby was, they were right away available to speak to me. Not only that, they always knew the details of what was happening with the baby without having to even check the records. There were specialists who also checked the baby, and they also made time to sit down with me to detail everything and be sure I understood what was going on and had a chance to ask questions.
The nurses were extremely encouraging and supportive of breastfeeding. They encourage all mothers to pump milk for their babies from the very beginning, and have a room with two hospital grade pumps, seating, a water cooler, and a privacy screen for when two women are in the room at once. They show each mother how to use the pumps, where the equipment is, etc. If you don’t have enough milk, they will supplement with formula but prefer not to have to do this.
Logistically I wasn’t able to pump enough for my baby’s needs for part of the time he was in the NICU (got behind when I was away for Shabbos) so he did need to be supplemented. The nurses regularly reminded me to be sure I left him enough milk so they wouldn’t have to give him formula. One nurse told me, “Mother’s milk is the best and most precious thing!” This seems to be the feeling all the nurses shared.
When I was gone for Shabbos, I left several containers of frozen milk there for the baby, and though they prefer that parents prepare the exact amount necessary for each feeding, they understood that I wouldn’t know how much to prepare in advance (since every day the amount the baby was given was upped, usually twice a day), and were willing to defrost it and take care of it themselves rather than give him formula. When I was finally able to nurse my baby, the nurses offered breastfeeding advice and made sure that I knew what I was doing (though the social worker and nurse joked together that I could probably give the staff lessons!).
The day after I left, I had to call the NICU about something, and the person who answered the phone immediately knew who I was. There are so many nurses and staff on hand at all times, that this was impressive to me – they all know what’s going on with the babies, and which parents belong to which babies.
I’m really glad to be home but the NICU at Nahariya Hospital was a very positive experience for us.