Neonatology in Costa Rica

Little Baby - Neonatology, Neonatologists

A neonatologist is a pediatric specialist who who is involved with high risk infants, diagnosing and treating newborn infants with breathing disorders, infections, birth defects, or other conditions.  They are trained to manage the medical care necessary for premature or critically ill newborns, especially coordinating any surgical procedures.  It is important to take care of these challenges as soon as possible, because if left untreated, many of these health hazards can have life-long consequences.

Neonatologists are often confused with obstetricians, the difference being obstetricians take care of the pregnancy and the birth, but the neonatologists will take care of the baby after it is born.  However neonatologists may also attend high-risk deliveries, providing supportive care of infants from birth, and frequently perform technical procedures such as endotracheal intubation and placement of central venous and arterial catheters.  Most neonatologists work in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU), either in an academic or private hospital setting.  Some neonatologists also provide long-term follow-up of high-risk infants. Read more

Even when you are in the best place with the best doctors, nurses, and other staff, a stay in the NICU can be a very stressful and challenging time.  Your newborn will receive individualized, specialty care from a dedicated NICU team that will help your baby grow and thrive while in the hospital.

Most people probably know that breast milk provides essential nutrients and other factors that protect against infection, and offers other important benefits to your baby’s growth and development.  If a baby in the NICU is not ready to drink by mouth right after birth, a lactation specialists and/or NICU nurses can instruct new mothers on pumping their breast milk and storing it for feeding by tube until their baby is ready to breastfeed.  Once a baby is able to transition to the breast, lactation specialists and NICU nurses can also assist mothers and babies with positioning and latching onto the breast.

Something of great value to babies in an NICU is skin-to-skin, or ‘kangaroo’ care, which describes holding your baby against your bare chest to provide extra warmth and to promote bonding.  This method benefits both baby and the parents.  The NICU staff can assist parents in accomplishing this, even when babies are very small or sick, and often helps to relieve the feeling of separation that may be experienced by parents.  It has been determined that babies who have skin-to-skin contact generally have better breastfeeding success, and may also be calmer, have better blood sugar levels, improved respiratory rates, and healthier body temperatures than babies who do not receive this contact.

An important developmental aid for a newborn is hearing their parents’ voices, which helps a baby’s brain develop.  Reading is also a great way to accomplish this brain stimulation.  An NICU may have a program introducing parents to reading favorite childhood books to provide this brain stimulation in a way that can be best received by their very small or sick infants.

Another helpful benefit is that when your baby is ready to be discharged, the attending neonatologist can provide your baby’s pediatrician with detailed medical information about your baby’s NICU stay and coordinate with your pediatrician as needed for ongoing care.

In general, tourists do not come to Costa Rica to have their babies delivered. However, there have been cases of premature births while on vacation. If you find yourself in one of these rare situations, these doctors speak English and can help you deliver your baby in a safe environment.

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