Health Plus: Inside the NICU - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Inside the NICU

Vanessa Smith, born 3 months early, and her mom, Leanna. Vanessa Smith, born 3 months early, and her mom, Leanna.

Waterloo (KWWL) - Most babies are born right on time, give or take a few days. But when that bundle of joy shows up way too early, they often need the care and services that can only be found in the neo-natal intensive care unit, like the one at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo.

It's hard to believe looking at her now, but Vanessa Smith was born about three months early, weighing 2 pounds 14 ounces. She spent just about that much time at the NICU at Covenant Medical Center.

"Primarily we treat premature babies and their lungs are not fully developed or as strong so they may need some ventilators or oxygen support," said Heather Benson, a clinical nurse specialist at the NICU.

Vanessa's mom Leanna, spent her nights right here with her newborn, close to home, and close to her heart.

"I was able to hold her everyday and I was able to change here diaper when they were monitoring her," said Leanna Smith. "I got to hold her during feedings up until I was able to nurse her and I got to bathe her."

"Families are the key to treatment of the babies and we want our families to stay so our rooms are specially designed to hopefully make the parents feel comfortable and encourage them to stay and be involved in the babies care," said Benson. "Each room is specially designed to keep out noise and light which is essential for our premature babies brain growth."

Being the parent of a pre-mature baby is stressful enough. Having a NICU to care for that child is parents sigh of relief and a sign for a healthy tomorrow.

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