NICU Families NW

FAMILIES HELPING FAMILIES

As Guides on a Journey

WE REACH OUT

To Walk With Them

SHARING OUR MESSAGE

That They Are Not Alone

EMPOWERING HEALING

Because Their Stories Matter

What We Do

NICU Families Northwest (NFNW) is a not-for-profit organization established in 2015 to provide practical, ongoing,
social and emotional support to NICU families in the Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA region.
Our services are designed to support parents anticipating a NICU birth or currently in the NICU,
as well as “graduate” families with children no longer in need of inpatient care.

NICU parents are the central force behind healthy infant development, and their needs exist on a continuum
that begins with pre-term diagnosis and lasts long after discharge. NICU Families Northwest begins a dialogue with families
through outreach initiatives that reinforce hospital goals such as healthy parent-baby bonding and self-care. The dialogue continues
online for parents who seek to connect with peers in an environment that facilitates opportunities to share experiences.

If you're a NICU parent or someone you care about is facing a NICU stay with their child, we'd like to help you understand
the unique needs of NICU families and become better educated about the impact of infant hospitalization.

NICU Families Northwest is a 501(c)3 organization and offers many opportunities for individuals, businesses, and community groups to support our projects.

Our Services

Despite the fact that just under 8% of Oregon births and just over 8% in Washington are premature, most parents never imagine a NICU stay for their newborn.
If you've experienced a premature, unexpected, or otherwise complicated birth that resulted in a NICU stay for your baby,
it's important that you know you're not alone and we're here to help you navigate this experience.

Who We Serve

NICU Families Northwest is proud to offer support independently to any family in the Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA region.
We are honored to be able to offer our services directly to patient families through partnerships with select hospitals that support our mission and programs.

Map Key

 

♦ Current hospital partners,

     all programs

 

♦ In negotiation to provide services

 

No official hospital partnership,

     families welcome

How Does the NICU Experience Impact Families?

Increased rates of
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

In a study of mothers of infants born at very low birthweight (less than 1500 grams or 3 lbs., 3 ozs.),

six months after discharge from the NICU 24% of mothers attained scores on a postpartum questionnaire that suggest that they would qualify for a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

According to the National Center for PTSD, “symptoms can cause problems with trust, closeness, communication, and problem solving,” which may have adverse effects on the quality of parenting behavior, as well as on their child’s development. It can also compromise a NICU parent’s ability to maintain and nurture close family relationships or friendships which can foster feelings of isolation and depression.

Delayed opportunities
to bond with baby

According to a study focused on how the NICU experience impacts the development of maternal identity,

for 78% of NICU moms the anticipated first touch of their babies didn’t happen until the second or third visit, and actually holding their babies was delayed even longer.

Even when told by the nurse they could touch their babies, only 22% of the mothers touched them on the first visit and all the remaining mothers voiced concerns that they were afraid of “hurting” or “breaking” their babies by touching them, even when the nurse demonstrated the proper technique.

Significant risk of
Acute Stress Disorder

One study that focused on Acute Stress Disorder (ASD), the form of traumatic stress that is experienced in the first weeks after a traumatic event (and is considered to be a precursor to PTSD), indicated

28% of participating parents met all the symptom criteria used to diagnosis ASD for the stress of having an infant hospitalized in the NICU.

Researchers evaluated parental stressors using categories such as: Sights and Sounds of the NICU, Infant Behavior and Appearance, and Parental Role Alteration as well as Staff Behaviors and Communication. The study showed participants whose coping style tended toward suppressing or avoiding emotional responses or negative feelings about their NICU experience were more prone to manifest PTSD symptoms.

The Benefits for Families

Despite a national movement toward Family-Centered Care, the focus of most hospital policies, practices, and services remains exclusively infant-focused which neglects to address and treat the lasting effects of unresolved family trauma. The emotional stability of parents is critical to a child's continued healthy development, and a lack of ancillary services to help them heal from the NICU experience can compromise long-term family stability.

NICU Families Northwest connects parents to an inspiring and supportive community of peers that remains available as long as they need support.

The hardest part of being in the NICU was feeling that I had failed my daughter before I even had a chance to hold her— I felt that I had failed as a mother and as a woman. Through NICU Families NW, I met other women who had been through similar experiences. We are often harder on ourselves than those around us and hearing their stories really helped me realize that sometimes no one is at fault, things just happen.

~Mom of baby girl born at 30 weeks, 6 days

Being able to share my story makes me feel less alone in my NICU experience. I struggled for a long time to find peace with the lack of understanding I felt among friends and family and would often hold back from them emotionally because of my inability to relate. The advice wasn’t applicable, and it was exhausting to have to regularly explain why we made the choices we were making. I feel like only other NICU parents can really understand that time in my life, and it helps me heal to reach out to people struggling with the same experiences. Those are my people.

~Mom of baby girl born at 26 weeks, 4 days

It has made me realize that I’m not the only one in this situation… we all have the same feelings, the same fears, the same joy when our child does something new that a term baby can do. It has made me become a better parent and a better person, and I think that has to do with the support from others.

~Mom of twin preemies

OUR STORIES

Your story matters.

Every voice is important, every question counts, and the hopes and fears are real. We believe sharing your story
is central to the healing process and empowers families to celebrate all they overcome.

These are the experiences of some of our NFNW members. Their stories matter. Every story matters.

All Stories
HELLP
IUGR
Micro Preemies
Multiples
Placenta Previa
PPROM
Preeclampsia
Term
Filled With “What Ifs”
Filled With “What Ifs”
read more
Find Those Moments
Find Those Moments
read more
He Needed to Hear My Voice
He Needed to Hear My Voice
read more
Mira “the Miracle”
Mira “the Miracle”
read more
More Time to Love Him
More Time to Love Him
read more
The Tiny Bug Wonder
The Tiny Bug Wonder
read more
Vida Lee
Vida Lee
read more
The Singing Parents
The Singing Parents
read more
I Will Never, Ever Forget This
I Will Never, Ever Forget This
read more
Keep ‘Em Cookin’
Keep ‘Em Cookin’
read more
If you are interested in sharing your NICU story as part of your healing process or to help others understand the impact of infant hospitalization, we encourage you to contact us.

Dear Mama: An Open Letter to NICU Moms

In honor of Mother's Day, we asked graduate NICU moms to write a letter to themselves as if they were still in the hospital. We wanted them to share the courage, strength, and hope they found within themselves through the NICU experience.

Help Us Make An Impact

We rely on families, hospitals, doctors, service providers, and local business leaders to help us strengthen and support our NICU families.
Please take a moment to see if you can make an impact in our community today.

Spread The Word

Share our organization with a NICU family in your social circle and allow us to introduce them to our peer-to-peer network of amazing NICU parents.

Send a Message
Donate

Help us fund our amazing projects that reach NICU families where and when they need our support. Your support is sincerely appreciated.

Donate
Become a Volunteer

Are you a former NICU parent looking to give back to the community? We can help you put your talents and experience to work helping others.

Get in Touch

Contact Us

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