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Stories from the NICU

For these newborns, the first few days of their lives might be the hardest. But with the care of Neonatal Intensive Care Units across the country, these babies can get the best start in life. Read on for inspiring stories from these superstars of the NICU.

Protecting the Most Vulnerable – Keeping the Baby Warm


Birth is an exciting time for most families, but it can be a frightening experience. Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm, and this number is rising. Some weigh as little as a pound and yet face oversized challenges. When babies are born too soon, premature infants’ temperature can fall lower due to the thin, poorly developed skin and a relatively large surface area in relation to body weight. 50% of babies have low neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission temperatures.

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The Mitteis Twins’ First Adventure

Mitteis FamilyWhen Bryce and Kelsey Mitteis transferred their twins into Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health’s new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in September it didn’t take long before they noticed a difference.

After several days in the hospital’s previous NICU, the premature twins were now in a private room with their parents and away from the hustle and bustle of activity of other babies receiving care, which can add stress to premature babies as they recover.

Shortly after the move, NICU Nurse Manager Angela Riley said Kelsey noticed it had been hours since she had heard an alarm.

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Greeting an Early Arrival: Penelope’s Story

penelope 1

At thirty-two weeks of pregnancy, your baby will be around the size of a pineapple. She will have just about grown tiny fingernails and toenails. Your baby won’t be considered full-term for another five weeks at least. She won’t be ready for life outside the womb for another seven.

On August 30, 2015, Kyle and Elizabeth Phillips’ first child, Penelope, was delivered unexpectedly, seven weeks ahead of schedule.

“As new parents, you read up on everything, what to do with a baby,” said Elizabeth. “But you don’t read up on what to do when you have a premature baby!”

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