NICU terms every parent of a preemie knows

1. Ventilator-breathes for the baby when they are too sick to breathe by themselves. I cried when I found out Jacob had to be vented.

2. Surfactant-drug given to help babies lung mature if they are having respiratory distress.

2. CPAP-a step down from the ventilator, this is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or mechanical ventilation.

3. Nasal Canula-gives the baby extra puffs of oxygen.

4. Scale-babies are weighed every day. Whether they gain or lose weight is huge.

5. TNP-Total Nutrition Package. Given via IV.

6. Bilirubin lights/levels-those purple goggles are fashionable!

7. Destaturations-pretty common but alarming all the same.

8. IV’s-everywhere-even in their head

9. Neosure-high calorie formula

10. Kangaroo care-the best feeling ever. Skin to skin contact with your peanut.

11. Gavage feeding-that’s the thin plastic tube that is gently inserted into the nose and threaded down to the stomach to feed the baby before they are strong enough to nipple feed.

12. Apnea monitors-many NICU babies come home on these to monitor their oxygen saturation and heart rate. A safety device that has the ability to send the parent over the edge.

13. Synagis-the only FDA approved medication to help protect high-risk babies’ lungs from severe RSV. These shots are extremely expensive and are given every 28-30 days through RSV season, and dose is determined by weight.
About Angie

Angie is a CRAFT dabbling, recipe making, WORD loving, sunshine hording, book DEVOURING, Mama to a lot! She's kind of in love with Instagram right now, so if you want her attention, go find here there. {smiling}


  1. Are You Serious! says

    It’s amazing how much goes on in the NICU… Joe was in the NICU all summer and it was amazing for him to see those babies progress in such amazing ways. When he first told me about the IV in the head, wow!!! My heart goes out to all these mothers that have to go through the NICU…

  2. I can’t even imagine how scary it must be to learn all of those terms. My heart goes out to anyone that has been there…

  3. I am amazed everytime I hear about this sort of thing. How do you do it? I suppose I would survive, but I feel weak just thinking about it.

  4. I got goosebumps just reading those terms. How scary to have a baby in the NICU. I love the Kangaroo Care- much needed contact for mom and baby!

  5. Casey's trio says

    I felt like I could have been hired to be a NICU RN after being there everyday for 4 months with 3 babies. There were days when I wanted to give report on my babies at shift change if it was a nurse who we didn’t have regularly. But, I must say that the NICU nurses are my heroes and it takes such an amazing person to deal with what they see on a daily basis. Here are a few more terms I can think of off the top of my head: PDA ligation, Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH), PICC line, Broviac catheter, Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), Chronic Lung Disease. And the numbers that you start worrying about…CO2 levels, hematocrit, your baby is weighed in grams instead of pounds. Crazy how it all comes rushing back.

  6. these are terms I wish I had never had to learn. My preemies did amazing, but they still went through the breathing and feeding issues and all the tubes and wires and A&B’s. It was only 9 days but it felt like eternity! Thankfully the ventalators were in the first 12 hrs until the surfactant worked and I was on morphine that time. I do not remember much.

  7. girlytwins says

    It all comes rushing back like a 1000lb truck running right into you. I never thought the day would come when I would get to take my girls home. I cried more tears during those 5 weeks than my entire life put together.

  8. I’m sorry you had to know this, but grateful that it was there when you needed it.

  9. How hard it was for you to deal with those…
    Ar and Ir got #3 and #11 for 5 days, and was hard enough for me…
    It’s amazing how you have got through it all…

  10. Crazymamaof6 says

    so hard to got through! and I’m so glad it all turned out ok for you and everyone else. AHHHHHHHH but think you are more knowledgeable and stronger from it right?

    NO fun!

    and wow that vaccine is fabulous too bad it is so expensive . every preemie baby should get it. RSV is no fun!

    great 13! i love to learn new things!

  11. Come and get your award!!

  12. I am SO lame. I did not know what TT stood for till someone said it in the comments. HELLO!

    Great post! I totally understand and relate to all of it, unfortunately and fortunately at the same time.

  13. I don’t want to remember those terms…not yet anyway!

  14. ispeakbeanish says

    It’s amazing what gets burned into your head during a NICU experience. Ours was 5 1/2 weeks before our Bean came home. Preemies are such awesome fighters.

  15. carrie & troy keiser says

    Thanks for sharing all these terms, helps in understanding what is going on with our little niece, Emily Rose.

  16. I feel blessed that my little Gavin, born 2 months early, only had a two 1/2 week stint in the NICU… but i must say i went through 17 days of pure hell without my baby boy, but i also came away with such an appreciation for those NICU nurses and doctors, they are truly amazing !