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For Families

Whether you anticipated your child’s stay in the NICU or it was unexpected, having a newborn with urgent medical needs can be an overwhelming experience. Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health provides extra care to help you and your family adjust to your baby’s hospitalization following birth. Our family support specialists, care managers, social workers, financial experts, and child life specialists work together to reduce the stress on your family, so you can focus on the most important thing: loving your child.

Family Support

The family support team at Riley at IU Health offers an extra level of support to families of children staying in the NICU. Our family support coordinators have children of their own who spent time in the NICU and can understand views from a parent perspective. In conjunction with social workers, they help parents and families through hospitalization, procedures and staff interactions from birth until discharge. Family care managers help families meet day-to-day needs, while family support coordinators are here to listen and can connect parents with available resources, including specific support needed once the transition to home is made.

Every family is connected to another parent who has been through a similar experience with a child. Informal support groups, including snack times, baby showers and scrapbooking opportunities, give parents the opportunity to connect and build a sense of community while taking needed respite. Families are invited to attend an annual NICU reunion to continue the special relationships formed.

Financial issues are listed as one of the biggest stressors among NICU families, after the wellbeing of their child. Therefore, our family support services include a team member dedicated exclusively to working with families on healthcare financing. We help navigate Medicaid and commercial insurance plans to determine what kind of coverage you have and what additional coverage can be obtained through special children’s programs.                                              

Lactation Services

Lactation consultants (professional breastfeeding specialists), are trained to help mothers and babies achieve successful breastfeeding. A lactation consultant can help mothers with latching difficulties, painful nursing, low milk production or inadequate weight gain. They also are familiar with breastfeeding equipment such as breast pumps and other supplies that are helpful to breastfeeding mothers and infants.

Child Life and Therapy

Riley at IU Health offers specific services to help all family members gain physical and emotional healing during the NICU stay. These services include:

  • Massage therapy to promote relaxation and relieve pain.
  • Parent electronic communication to keep families informed.
  • Sibling activities to help other children in the family adjust to the change in routine.
  • Music therapy with a trained music therapist.

Social Work

Each family is assigned a clinical social worker upon admission to Riley at IU Health, to help cope with an extended hospital stay. Licensed by the State of Indiana, Riley at IU Health social workers have expertise and specialized training in treating women struggling with postpartum depression, and couples dealing with infertility issues, pregnancy loss, and/or the death of a child. In addition, counseling for relationship problems, histories of trauma and abuse, physical disabilities, sexual dysfunctions and chronic mental illnesses is available. 

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