If your baby has been admitted to our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, there may be a number of medical terms you will hear during your baby’s stay.

As always, we encourage you to ask questions about your baby. Do not hesitate to discuss any concerns with the nurse or doctor. If you do not understand a term that is used or what to expect of your care as it is explained to you, please speak up and allow us to further explain.

We want to make sure that you understand the care your baby is receiving and want you to be an active participant during their stay in our NICU.

A low number of red blood cells in the blood.

Medication to help fight infection.

A period when breathing has stopped. The baby may start to breathe on his or her own or may need stimulation.

A method of filling your baby’s lungs with air and oxygen by using a rubber bag, mask and oxygen.

A yellow-colored substance in the body that is made when red cells in the blood are digested by the liver. Too much bilirubin in the body can lead to jaundice.

Blood Gas
A blood test that measures the concentration of oxygen in the baby’s blood.

A heart rate that is slower than normal. This can happen when the baby has apnea.

Desaturation (desats)
Short periods of time when the oxygen in your baby’s system drops below the normal level.

A measurement of weight. Your baby is weighed in grams in the hospital. You can convert grams to pounds and ounces. 1 ounce = 28 grams; 1 pound = 454 grams.

Heel Stick
A way to obtain a blood sample by pricking the baby’s heel.

Hyperalimentation or TPN
Providing nutrition through a vein when your baby cannot be fed or is not taking enough nutrition by mouth.

The yellow skin color caused by too much bilirubin in the blood.

Fats and proteins given through an IV to help your baby grow.

Metabolic Screening
A state required newborn screening that tests the blood for several diseases. Sometimes called PKU test, although this is not the official name.

Abbreviation for nothing by mouth.

Special fluorescent light treatment for jaundice that helps break down the bilirubin in the blood.

A collection of air in the space between the lung and the chest wall that causes the lung to collapse.

The amount of undigested food left in your baby’s stomach. This is checked before the next feeding if your baby is being fed with a feeding tube.

An infection in the blood or other part of the body.

An abnormally fast heart rate.

An abnormally fast breathing rate.

Vital signs
Your baby’s heart rate, breathing rate, temperature and blood pressure.