Twin Pregnancy FAQ: What is the NICU?

Twins and the NICU

Question: Twin Pregnancy FAQ: What is the NICU?

Get the answers to frequently asked questions about pregnancy with twins and multiples. Have a question that isn't answered here? Ask me.


If you've talked to any other parents of twins, you may hear them refer to their babies' stay in the NICU. A NICU, which stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and is pronounced like "nick-you," is a special care nursery for infants who require intensive care because they were born prematurely or have other medical problems.

Because many twins and multiples are born early, they may spend their earliest days, weeks or even months in the hospital, developing the strength and skills to survive. During that time they will be treated by a team of medical professionals trained specifically in the care of infants and young children. These professionals will include doctors, called neonatologists, who specialize in treating newborns.

Not all NICU facilities are equal. Facilities are categorized into levels. A Level I NICU is designed to accommodate basic issues of newborns, or to stabilize critical situations before transferring patients to another facility. The highest level facilities are capable of caring for the most extreme situations, including babies born prior to 28 weeks and those requiring surgery. With specialized equipment and staff, they are able to address the most serious complications or prematurity.

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