The two sounds that you will hear in the neonatal unit that may make you feel out of your depth are the sounds of the monitors and alarms and the technical terms the staff use when referring to your baby. Within a period of days, you will get to know the monitor sounds and the alarms and will adjust yourself to cope with this noxious sensory input.

These are the common terms you will hear:

Apnoea – a period when the breathing stops and oxygen saturation levels drop

Bradycardia – slower than normal heart rate

Chronic lung disease (CLD) – damaged lung tissue as a result of your baby breathing on a ventilator for a long time

Hydrocephalus – increased amount of brain fluid (CSF) around the brain as a result of infection or the spinal fluid not being absorbed well

Hypoglycaemia – abnormally low blood sugar

Hypoxia – low levels of oxygen in the blood

Intubate – inserting a narrow tube into your baby’s nose or mouth and down the trachea for help with breathing

Jaundice – yellow colour of the body or whites of the eyes, due to the liver’s inability to process bilirubin, a substance produced as the red blood cells breakdown

NG tube (Nasogastric tube) – a tube inserted into one nostril and down to the stomach for feeding

Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) often called Hyaline membrane disease – a common cause of respiratory problems where the lungs do not secrete sufficient surfactant, the substance that keeps the alveoli in the lungs from collapsing

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) – a visual problem caused by a problem with the developing blood supply to the retina due to too high levels of oxygen administered for prolonged periods

These are the common medical terms you will hear. If your baby has other problems in the neonatal unit, you will quickly learn the meaning of other terms too.