Saturday, April 2, 2016

Updated NICU Gown Pattern

One of my most popular posts since I started this blog in 2010 has been the NICU pattern that I wrote about after our grandbaby was born weighing only 2 lbs. 4 ozs. This week I am washing and delivering 24 gowns to Cabrini's Women's and Children's NICU ward. 
the old version
While I am happy that so many people have been interested in making NICU gowns, I haven't necessarily been happy about the look of the pattern itself. So I finally got around to cleaning it up.
newer, updated version
To print the pattern simply click on the picture and copy it. Then go to MS Word (or whatever program you normally use) and paste it there. Enlarge the pattern so that it just fits inside of a regular 8½ X 11 sheet of copy paper. Nothing is exact--if you get close it will be fine, but remember that the pattern is half of the gown. (I print one but cut out two and tape them together at the center back.) You have a pattern that easily. One of the reasons that size is not terribly important is that the gowns aren't necessarily clothing the way we think of it. 
In the NICU, still not wearing clothes
Preemies are all sizes (generally 1-6 lbs) but most weight 4-5 pounds before the nurses put clothing on them. This is because when tiny babies are irritated, they fidget and cry, and any irritation slows down their weight gain and development. 
Christmas (almost two months in NICU)
wearing a gown I made
We couldn't touch or hold Catherine for the first few weeks. It's devastating to think that just your touch can delay her progress. Because the gowns are designed to cover the baby rather than fit tiny bodies, there's a little wiggle room . 

Catherine at 5 years old
NICU babies are kept at an exact temperature, so the gowns aren't even meant to keep them warm. Their job is to help the parents cope with having a preemie in such delicate condition. 

Catherine now at six years old.
Young moms and dads come into the NICU and, seeing the baby with clothing, begin to see her differently. There's a renewed hope that the baby will survive. They've been touching and holding her for a few days, and this is one more advancement. They eventually practice putting clothing on her, changing her diaper, nursing or giving her a bottle--all while a nurse is close by to help them. Even parents who have older children are afraid to handle their frail, tiny infant. A two pound baby can be frightening! 

If you are interested in making NICU gowns for your local hospital, first call and ask if they prefer a particular pattern be used. If this pattern is acceptable, you can find the tutorial here

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