Top Tips for Photographing your Baby in NICU

For many the NICU is a completely surreal world.  You feel overwhelmed by all of the machines, wires, probes, noise and how big it is with SO many babies.  This however is YOUR baby's story and for many it will be important to try and capture all that is going on so that you can share it with others who are unable to visit and also so that you have a record to share with your child when they grow up.

The NICU is a tough environment to take nice pictures.  Hopefully we can share a few tips with you to make those memories a little more polished.

Know Your Camera

It doesn’t matter if it’s a point and shoot, your iPhone or a professional DSLR.  Know how to:

  • Turn it on and off
  • Focus it properly, for most cameras that is pushing the shutter button halfway, for your iPhone holding it still until the yellow square appears and locks
  • Turn the flash off.  Keep your flash turned off whilst photographing in the NICU regardless of the type of camera you have.

If your not an experienced photographer keep your camera on automatic settings for both exposure and focusing.  If you have more experience you should know to set your white balance, turn your ISO up and how to meter and choose the right depth of field for the shot you are taking.

Remember to hold your camera still whilst focusing, as the image is taken and for a moment after.  Consider bracing yourself against a chair, wall or table if you are a bit shaky.

*Note - some NICU's will not allow mobile phone use, other's require airplane mode.

Video

Almost all cameras and phones now have video capabilities.  Along with still images you may like to capture short clips of your baby moving and the sounds of the NICU.  Similar principles apply to taking video, know how your device works, keep as still as possible, move slowly, zoom slowly.

Keep It Simple

When looking to take your photo consider if there are things in the image that could be removed to keep the image simple, or consider if you are able to move yourself to change the angle of the image to remove some of those things.  Sometimes getting up high, down low or simply moving left of right will dramatically change the outcome of your photo.  The plastic from the isolettes will create some glare, again moving and shifting your angle can help to minimise or eliminate that.

As baby gets bigger and you are able to freely pick them up and move about within the nursery consider some images by a nearby window which will create some beautiful soft light and provide a change of background scenery.

Capture the Environment

Your baby may be spending days, weeks or months in the NICU.  Make sure you step back and take an image of their bay from a couple of different angles which includes all of their machines and monitors.  If they move bays or nurseries be sure to do the same again.  One day your child might like to know which machine was which and what they all did.  Even if you don’t know the answers a photo can help them understand.

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Milestones & Details

As your baby moves through the NICU and reaches milestones like 1kg, 2kg, moving from an isolette to an open cot, first cuddle, first breastfeed etc make sure you are taking photographs to mark the occasion, these moments will never be firsts again.  Treatments and monitors change all the time in the NICU, take images that capture the details eg : blood pressure being taken, sunglasses for phototherapy lights, when they are finally IV free, tiny fingers and toes etc, remember this is your baby's story.

A sense of scale

Babies in the NICU are all different shapes and sizes, many are very, very small  Use your partners hand, a wedding band, a coin or a toy as a size comparison for your baby.  As they get bigger take further images so you can see just how far they have come.  As your baby will no doubt have restricted visitation no one will truly understand just how small your baby is unless you can provide that sense of scale.

Routine

Participating in baby's cares is one of the few things that parents can do for their baby whilst in NICU.  Changing that first nappy, massaging their head when their CPAP hat is off, giving them a bath when they are bigger.  These things are generally part of baby's overall daily routine.  Time your visits with your partner so that you can take turns in the cares whilst the other one captures the moment.  Don’t forget the quiet moments too.  Sometimes you will just sit with your hand on bub, sit quietly and read to them, or might hold them skin to skin (kangaroo care) these moments are just as important to immortalise and can create really powerful images for you to look back on.  If your partner isn’t available to take an image for you don’t be shy about asking the nurses, they will be delighted.  It’s important for you to be in the photos too.

Home Time

Finally going home is almost an equally overwhelming feeling as finding yourself in the NICU in the beginning.  Don’t get caught up and forget to document this momentous occasion!  Collect up all of baby's NICU mementos, show them in their car seat, at the doors to the NICU, at the doors to the hospital, in the car, at home in their bed and being welcomed properly into your family.

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Once you have all of your images you may consider putting together an album or scrapbook which tells baby's story.  There are many ‘drag and drop’ sties which make this very easy to do.  For our readers we have managed to secure a discount from Blurb valid until 23 June.  When checking out enter 15%OFF (save 15% off on orders $50+*), 25%OFF (save 25% off on orders $100+**) or 35%OFF (save 35% off on orders $250+***).  Please see conditions at the end of this post.

A couple of things to note.  Many hospitals don’t like for their staff to be photographed so always check with baby's nurse that they are ok with being in your image.  Also always check with the nursing staff before moving baby or anything in or around baby.

All images appearing in this article were taken with a consumer point and shoot camera on automatic.


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Babywearing

Guest blog post written by Lisa R.

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Years ago before I had even fallen pregnant I remember dreaming about being a Mum and certain things I would do raising my child. Oh how things changed very quickly when I did become pregnant and started to read and research things in depth. I changed my views and ideas in regards to many subjects but one thing I never looked into was babywearing. Actually I didn’t know that babywearing was even a ‘thing’. While pregnant I was handed down a carrier and pocket sling and thought that would do, one thing to check off my list. I spontaneously went into labour the day I turned 23 weeks gestation. My son Wynter was born 3 days later and that started another journey filled with more reading and research for me, now into premature newborns. I soon discovered the importance of kangaroo care, bonding and keeping baby close. There were so many benefits for my son as well as for me to keep up my milk supply.

Naturally we want to be close to our babies but it can prove difficult in a NICU scenario when our babies might be too sick or weak to even be moved. Any pregnant woman that gives birth and has to face the gut wrenching reality of leaving the hospital without their baby knows all too well how precious those cuddles are when they do happen.

So fast forward a 117 day hospital stay for my gorgeous boy and I am home with a tiny baby. I can have cuddles all the time. Now how do I get things done around the house? I hated putting him down. We wanted to spend time as a family out and about now we were free from the hospital too. We used our pocket sling and front pack carrier a few times but found them pretty uncomfortable and bub seemed a little squished.

Thank goodness my sister who had just had a baby 4 weeks before I had started to look into the world of babywearing a few months later. Initially I was put off by the term Babywearing. I honestly didn’t like the sound of it but I could not deny the generous community and joy of carrying my son around in an optimal carrier. Wynter was around 10 months old at this time and keeping him close for breastfeeding and to be hands free to get the cooking, cleaning and shopping done was a god sent. It’s the ultimate form of multi-tasking which we as women are so good at because we have to be!

If you think you would like to carry your child but don’t know where to start the best resources are online. Websites based in Perth such as www.carrymybaby.com.au and www.karritreelane.com Perthbabywearers (facebook group) and BabywearingWA (facebook page) are all great resources that are a wealth of local information from experts, vendors and babywearing mums. Don’t be put off by the lingo and abbreviations (I thought I was reading a second language when I first started looking) everyone is willing to help you find the best carrier for your family. Then the next thing to do is to go to a meet in your local area. They are held most weeks around Perth and surrounds and are wonderful to get some advice and try different types of carriers. As long as you know about the TICKS guidelines to safe babywearing now is the fun job of choosing a carrier. The main type’s are- 

1) SSC Soft Structured Carrier- Brands include Manduca, Tula and Ergo. These are buckle style and favoured by dads too. Easy to use from newborn through to toddlerhood. This is my go to carrier for quick trips.

2) Ring slings- Different to pocket slings these are easier to adjust. Nice and soft they sit over one shoulder and bub is positioned upright. Some brands include Sakura Bloom and Maya Wraps.

3) Stretchy wraps- This is a very long piece of fabric that you can wrap around your body and baby. Stretchy wraps are made of a stretch jersey usually and are great for newborns and babies till around 5 months old. Unfortunately you can’t back carry in a stretchy wrap. Brands include Boba, Moby and Hug-a-bub.

4) Woven Wraps- These are same as above but the fabric has been woven on a loom, it’s a little thicker and heavier duty so it can carry newborns to toddlers. There are so many ways to use the long piece of fabric in many different carry’s. The advantage is that the fabric can be very pretty and you can adjust it to your body for comfort. You can also back carry with a woven wrap. The disadvantage is it does take practice especially with back carries to master getting your child into the right position. It is so satisfying when you get it right though. Brands include Natibaby, Didymos, and Kokadi.

5) Mei Tai’s- These are a panel of fabric that sits over babies body and long wrap straps that wrap around you. Brands include Girasol and Babyhawk. These are from newborn to toddler too.

Now Wynter is 2.5 years old I still occasionally carry him on my back but he is very independent and wants to run around like most kids his age and I’m fine with that. If I am blessed enough I look forward to carrying my next baby in my baby wrap collection. You can buy carriers to use up till pre-school age though which can come in handy for traveling and around busy roads, car parks and shops.

This is just a start to the pile of information out there so I encourage you to look into the world of babywearing. Hope you will enjoy holding your precious babies close.


If you've enjoyed babywearing with your child please leave a comment to let us know which carrier you preferred.

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