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NICU Discharge Preparation and Transition Planning


Parents whose babies are admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) need support.


Whether their baby’s stay is brief or long, uncomplicated or complex, a NICU stay changes how they care for their infant and how they will parent once they are discharged.

While we know a NICU stay is traumatic for most parents, the consequences of a family’s time spent in the NICU do not need to be negative ones.

Supportive NICU teams can use the time a family is in the NICU to engage in a well-designed discharge preparation and transition planning program.

These programs can have a lasting positive impact on both the infant’s health and the family’s wellbeing.

Our goal was to create recommendations that are both general and adaptable

- while also being specific and actionable. 

This model of discharge planning and care should begin pre-discharge (i.e., early in the NICU course),

continue during the transition process, and extend to the post-discharge period.

The goal is to provide a continuum of individualized, family-centered, and culturally competent support and education services that links the family to needed community resources.


With the publication of this supplement, the National Perinatal Association provides a state-of-the-art framework for achieving interdisciplinary guidelines and recommendations for NICU Discharge Preparation and Transition Planning.

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Our Dr. Vincent Smith presents on the transition from the NICU to the home for the
Colorado Perinatal Care Quality Collaborative's
DEFINE initiative.
EXPLORE the contents : 

A comprehensive NICU discharge preparation program includes all of the following: 

  • A well-defined discharge teaching philosophy

  • A structured education program

  • A defined curriculum

  • A process for assessing a family's discharge readiness

  • A process for the transition of care to a medical home


  • home and family life

  • infant behavior

  • coping with a crying infant

  • emergency planning

  • parental mental health

  • paying for a NICU stay

  • family and home needs assessment process

  • family and home needs assessment content

  • primary care involvement

  • primary care contact

  • NICU team's contact with the family after discharge

  • parental mental health

  • community resources

  • community notifications

  • Families with Limited English Proficiency

  • Military Families

  • LGBTQIA+ Headed Families

  • Parents with Disabilities

  • Families with Distinct Cultural and/or Philosophical Expectations

READ  the
Interdisciplinary Guidelines and Recommendations
for NICU Discharge Preparation and Transition Planning
published in the Journal of Perinatology   
Volume 42 | Supplement 1
February 15, 2022


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