Celebrating their tireless work on Neonatal Nurses Day

By Bhavani Prabhakar Published on Sep 15, 2018 02:42 PM IST

Usha Rani

Chennai: While doctors are glorified and celebrated all the time, not often do we realise the importance of nurses. Neonatal nurses, in particular, are unsung heroes who are responsible for tending to newborns, including preterm infants.

On the occasion of Neonatal Nurses Day today, Kanchi Kamakoti Childs Trust Hospital, nurse manager, Usha Rani, in a tête-à-tête with News Today, shares her experiences of working as a neonatal nurse for the past 13 years.

Usha Rani says, "As a neonatal nurse, our duty comprises establishing breathing and feeding of the infants. For preterm babies, the procedure is complicated as they breathe and are fed through tubes which must be carefully handled. To make the work easier, every nurse gets a baby allotted which must be cared by the specified nurse till the baby’s discharge from hospital. In case of any strange symptoms, the nurse can identify it as she would be familiar with the health condition of the baby."

The food habits of infants must be taken care properly. For instance, preterm newborns are fed with one or two ml of mother's milk.

"Quite a number of preterm babies are admitted to our hospital. Making them get accustom to food is a tough task. The mothers would not produce breast milk owing to complications in case of which the nurses encourage them by explaining the nutritional benefits. However, we have a milk bank to cater to the nutritional needs of the newborns," she explains.

Nonetheless, the role of a neonatal nurse is challenging as she has to ensure the neonate is not infected, well-fed and properly taken care of. In addition to such physical challenges, they also undergo emotional roller-coaster as there are infants who fail to respond to their care and treatment.

"Another major challenge that we face is handling parental emotions. Even if everything is handled with utmost care, the parents are concerned and we have to intervene and explain as to what is being performed," adds Usha Rani.

Usha Rani at her work spot.

NEWBORN CARE

For about one week of admission, the neonates are checked for complications and congenital abnormalities and physical examination. It could be fatal if the nurses ignore these.

When a child is born, chances of it getting affected with hypothermia is more. It must be immediately covered with sterile towels and shifted to a warmer so that the temperature is maintained.

Most preterm neonates are diagnosed with respiratory distress and would be requiring additional support of oxygen which is given either through ventilator or tubes.

UNIQUE CASE

"We had an extremely complicated preterm baby recently. We were informed that the mother conceived after several years and they do not hail from a well-off family. The infant was extremely underweight and had respiratory illness. With the aid of Milaap, an online funding platform, we raised the money required for the treatment," explains Usha.

Talking about the treatment, she goes on to say, "The infant was on ventilator support for about two months; and from 680 grams, the baby weighed 4 kg when it was discharged. In addition, it did not require an external oxygen support. We extubated and intubated more than seven times which we have never experienced and it was a life-threatening condition."

TECH AND TRAINING

Mechanical ventilator with high frequency oscillator and supply of nitrous oxide to prevent pulmonary hypertension, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), resuscitating infant neopuff and a transport ventilator to meet the respiratory needs of the child during transit in the neonatal ambulances are the technological advancements in neonatal services.

"The nurses are trained through in-service education and continuous nursing education that is offered in our hospital. During the in-service exercise, classes are held weekly twice, mock drills are conducted and based on the feedback the nurses will be moved to the next level. In the continuous nursing education, the nurses will be strengthened in specific services with the help of doctors," adds Usha Rani.