A NICU Glossary
Neonatal or Newborn Intensive Care Unit
Special Care Nursery
A short period of time when the baby does not take a breath.
A slower than normal heartbeat; often occurs with apnoea.
A small plastic tube placed under the nose to provide oxygen.
Placing a tube through the nose or mouth into the trachea (windpipe).
The first bowel movement/stool passed by a newborn, usually dark green and sticky.
Nasogastric tube (NG tube)
A tube inserted through the nose or mouth (orogastric or OG) and into the stomach. The tube delivers nutrients and medications, and removes undigested food and fluids from the stomach.
Feeding a baby through a gastric tube inserted into the stomach.
The length of time from conception to birth (how long the baby stays in the womb). Full-term gestation is between 38 and 42 weeks.
The level of oxygen in a baby’s blood. Oxygen level is measured by a small probe on the baby’s hand or foot, also by blood samples. This level tells at-a-glance how well oxygen is being carried through the body.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
A continuous amount of air, sometimes with added oxygen, is delivered through tubes in the baby’s nose to keep the airways of the lungs open as baby breathes.
This is a special bed where your baby may be kept. Premature babies lack the ability to maintain their body temperature so keeping them in this special enclosed bed keeps them warm until they gain some fat and the ability to hold their own body temperature.
Intravenous Fluid, Lines and Pump
Your baby may require intravenous medication, fluid or feeding. In this case lines are inserted into a vein or artery in baby’s leg, arm, scalp or what remains of the umbilical cord. A special pump regulates the amount of medication or fluid your baby receives.
Special lights are used to help break down biliruben. Baby will usually be naked, except for a nappy, to maximize the amount of skin exposed to the light. They will also wear a special mask to protect their eyes.
A probe is taped, usually to baby’s foot, which measures the amount of oxygen in his/her blood. This probe is regularly moved from foot to foot to prevent false readings and ensure no damage is done to the skin.
This is a machine that helps your baby breathe. Oxygen is supplied through a tube, in baby’s nose or mouth that leads into the windpipe.
Retinopathy Of Prematurity (ROP)
An eye disorder, involving the retina that can occur in premature infants
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
A small vessel (ductus) between the major arteries of the heart and the lungs. Before birth, this vessel is open and allows blood to bypass the lungs (not yet in use). When this opening fails to close after birth, it can cause problems with oxygen rich blood getting to the body.
Skin-to-skin contact where baby is positioned on mum or dad’s bare chest to promote bonding and healing.
Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)
A bowel condition caused by lack of blood supply. A section of the bowel may become severely inflamed
The subject matter provided in these articles is strictly for informational purposes alone and should never be used in the place of a doctor’s advice. Please ALWAYS contact your doctor if you ever have questions or need advice in any area where medical advice is needed or medication is suggested.