NICU 411: What Every Expecting Mom Should Know

The excitement of being pregnant is a very special time in life. For many mothers, the anticipation of having a newborn baby is filled with preparation. Whether its reading, researching or talking with friends, it’s important to learn as much as you can before that little bundle of joy arrives.

One important thing that expecting mothers may overlook is the importance of learning about prematurity and the treatment and care options available. As nearly 1 out of every 10 infants is born prematurely, it’s essential to prepare for this possibility. To provide more information about premature birth, as well as the resources available to you, Beth Timberlake, RN, NICU Clinical Manager at the Gwinnett Women’s Pavilion, shares her expertise.

What is Prematurity?

A baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy is considered premature. Premature babies are born before their bodies and organ systems have completely matured. These babies may be small, weighing less than 5 pounds.

They may need help breathing, eating, fighting infection, and staying warm. Very premature babies, those born before 28 weeks, are at the greatest risk for problems. Their organs and body systems may not be ready for life outside the mother’s womb and they may be too immature to function well.

Providing Care for Premature Babies

Premature babies often need time to catch up in both development and growth. Often times, babies will spend this time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), learning to eat and sleep, as well as steadily gaining weight. 

At the Circelli Family NICU in the Gwinnett Women’s Pavilion, you are sure to find the most complete, compassionate, customized care possible for our tiniest patients. The extensive care we offer extends beyond a newborn’s time in the NICU, we offer services and resources throughout their entire healing journey. Here are some of the life-saving services and resources we offer:

A level III NICU facility that provides care for the sickest of patients. We provide specialized therapies, ventilation and head cooling for babies born with a birth trauma. 

A dedicated transport team moves babies in from smaller community hospitals unable to provide this type of care to our NICU. By using the NICU ambulance, we are better able to transport those tiny patients as quickly and as safely as possible.

We utilize beads of courage for all of our NICU patients. This is a special program that honors the milestones achieved during a patient’s unique journey. We are proud to have been the first hospital to offer this therapeutic program to preemie families.

We have a collaborative team of specialists to ensure that each patient receives the individualized care they need. Our experts include: board-certified neonatologists (pediatricians who have received further training to care for sick newborns), nurse practitioners (specialized masters and doctorate-prepared nurses), clinical nurse specialist, neonatal nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers and physical therapists.

Because a NICU admission can be an extremely stressful situation for families, we offer a special support group for mother’s to discuss the challenges of the NICU admission. Mothers who have already had their babies graduate from the NICU can also attend. Our chaplain and social worker are amazing at helping NICU mothers during any difficult times.

Often times, families of NICU babies build lasting relationships with their baby’s care team over the course of their stay in the Circelli Family NICU. And those staff members care deeply about their little patients and family. To honor this special bond even after they’re out of the NICU, we hold an annual NICU graduate reunion to honor the former preemie patients and their families.

The Support You Need


While we hope that every birth experience is not only a special one, but a healthy one, we are prepared to provide compassionate care to critically ill and/or premature newborns. Our dedicated specialists, up-to-date technology and proven treatment methods, will ensure that you and your baby are in the best hands possible throughout your entire pregnancy journey.

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