Ministering to people with all types of life situations is important, that’s why we want to focus today on ministering to women who have delivered a premature baby that is staying in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU).
Families who have a baby that requires hospitalization have very high stress levels in a very critical milestone of their family life. Mothers specifically go through the ringer when the baby they were carrying ends up needing care that keeps her at a distance from her baby because of cords, machines, etc. Be sensitive to the family’s needs and desires. As each family and situation is different allow the family to set limitations or have some personal time if they need it without distraction.
A church family can reach out and purposefully take action to be a blessing. It is not always possible for them or their baby to receive personal visits but it is possible for you to be a blessing! The only way to know their specific needs or desires is to ask – if you can not get in touch with them contact a close family member, neighbor, or friend then do the things you can to minister to them.
Ministering in Prayer – 5 Things to Pray For
- Pray for the healing of the mother after childbirth.
- Pray for the medical needs of the baby as well as the hospital staff caring for the baby.
- Pray for the financial needs of the family.
- Pray for the father and other family members.
- Pray for the parents’ comfort and sanity during this exhausting time.
Ministering in Friendship – 5 Things to Encourage
- Call when it is convenient for the mother and listen to her.
- Write an encouraging note and send it in the mail.
- Text her with a reassuring Bible verse (Psalms are great for trials).
- Visit her and the baby at the hospital if possible.
- Take time to love on any other children in the family.
Ministering by Giving – Gifts to Help Mama & Family
- Gift Cards – restaurant or grocery store gift cards (because hospital food gets old), gas gift cards (traveling back and forth can be costly).
- Magazines and reading material. A book about preemies might be helpful.
- A ring sling for kangaroo care (skin-to-skin mother & baby contact) that will easily go over wires.
- A gift bag full of healthy snacks and water bottles.
- Hire a housekeeping service to clean the house.
- Give a spiritual gift that will help lift up their hearts toward God: a verse in a frame, a Christian music CD, sermon CD’s that will reconnect them with what’s happening in church, a devotional for new mothers, etc.
- Any essentials that new mothers would want or need: comfortable socks, a robe, cute house slippers, breastfeeding/pumping supplies, a comfortable pillow with a nice pillow case, etc.
- Preemie clothes for the baby.
- Money for the drink and snack machines.
- Notepads and/or other stationery for writing.
Ministering by Giving Your Time
- Be a help to the mother: make phone calls or arrangements that would normally absorb her valuable time with her baby, healing, or sleep. For example, if she is looking for connections for a place to stay (possibly Ronald McDonald House or location in the area if they are traveling long distance) or even someone who could get her in contact with someone who could help her get donor breastmilk if she is not able to breastfeed, or any other need that would take time and contacts to be able to complete that would be your job. *Make sure that if you volunteer for a job like this that it is wanted help that is a blessing and not a burden.
- Make them a meal, or freezer meals, or bag up some healthy snacks. Drop them off at a time that is convenient for the family either at their home or at the hospital. We knew a family who had a neighbor who would take meals that people scheduled to drop off at their home so they could stay at the hospital as long as they needed to.
- Volunteer to help with older siblings. Give them a ride to church, school, or extra-curricular activities, offer to babysit for some one-on-one time to hear and listen to their cares and concerns, take them out to the playground to exert some of that pent-up energy. Older kids need extra lovin’ when their parents have their focus elsewhere.
- Offer to run errands for their family or help around their house. Pick up some groceries while you’re at the store, clean their house (most NICU parents went through some type of an emergency and did not have time to clean their home), or even something as simple as dropping off their library books at the library.
With birth on my mind with our little one I certainly wanted to focus on some ministering that we can do for mothers. I pray and hope that this is a blessing and reference tool for you to use in the times when you face situations like this in your ministry.
Many of these ideas can also be a help to a mother on bed rest, or someone who has gone through a miscarriage, or other family crisis that may require time at the hospital. May the Lord help you and give you the grace to be able to be a blessing to the mama with a baby in NICU.
Other website articles that may help you minister to NICU Mamas:
- Gift Ideas for NICU Familes at Ain’t No Rollercoaster
- A NICU Parent Survival Bag by Preemie Babies 101
- Life in the NICU: 5 Tips to Survive as a Preemie Mom – great article to know the feelings of people going through this situation