DUBAI // Nurses at Zulekha Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (Nicu) share a common name – “Mamma”.
The tag has been given by mothers of premature babies who view the nurses as a crucial link between their baby and survival.
“I think they are the babies’ first mothers. They feed the babies, clean and look after them so all new mothers call them Mamma,” said Suzie Sacramento, whose son Nicholas has been dubbed the UAE’s miracle baby after being born weighing 530 grams – one of the smallest 23-week micro “preemies” to survive.
“The nurses are always running around telling you how to do everything in the Nicu, their support is very important.”
In a large, quiet room amid the steady beep of monitors, nurses check on babies inside incubators, gently turn a baby wrapped in a blue blanket on to his side and adjust the tube connecting another infant to a ventilator.
“When the baby is very small, every gram is precious to us and their weight fluctuates,” said head nurse Sini Younan, who has worked in the Nicu for 15 years.
“We ask the parents to think positively. We pray for the babies two times a day in the morning before our work starts and at the handover shift in the evening.
“We ask God to take care of the babies who are sick and make them strong.”
Nurses check weight gain against the birth weight, jot down blood and x-ray reports, measure the infant’s head circumference and height to plot the child’s growth.
The position of each baby is changed every two hours to prevent them getting bed sores and indentation on the thinly stretched skin.
Dealing with distressed parents can be taxing, particularly when families feel helpless watching their fragile child connected to multiple tubes.
“It is challenging for us but we know we must be strong and carefully talk to the mothers because it is their voice and touch the baby must always know,” said nurse Rincy Matthew.
The nurses patiently monitor feeding of sickly babies and console mothers when infants vomit after being carefully fed for an hour, bringing down their intake to zero.
“When the baby’s condition is delicate, the mother is restless so we try to keep them calm,” said nurse Lizy Zavier.
“Each mother reacts differently and is emotional. We focus on the baby because any improvement gives mothers hope and we see them smile.”