The newborn intensive care unit provides critical care to newborns who are ill or premature. Many factors may lead to a newborn being admitted to the NICU, including low birth weight or issues during delivery. The NICU team works closely with parents to develop a treatment plan for their newborn.

Expert newborn intensive care in Central Louisiana

No parent wants to think about their newborn being in intensive care. However, knowing Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital offers exceptional care can provide great peace of mind. At RWCH, we provide high-level, compassionate care to our NICU babies and their families.


Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital is home to the largest NICU in Central Louisiana. As a Level III NICU, we care for preterm babies or low-birth-weight babies while providing subspecialty care, including expertise in neonatology, as well as continuously available personnel and equipment to provide life support for as long as necessary.

What should I expect in the NICU?

Having your baby admitted to the NICU can be overwhelming. Our NICU team is ready to support your family while we care for your newborn.

We also consult with other specialists to help reduce the need for transfers to other facilities because we know how important it is for our families to stay close to home.

Breastfeeding in the NICU

We support breastfeeding as an important part of the postpartum process. We provide our families with a variety of ways to breastfeed in the NICU. Many babies are strong enough for traditional breastfeeding. For babies who aren’t able to do so, we offer moms the opportunity to pump and store for a later time. Sometimes, the conditions of a premature birth can make it more challenging for moms to produce breastmilk. Newborns can also be fed formula or, if available, thoroughly tested donor breastmilk.

We also have a certified lactation consultant available to help support all breastfeeding efforts.

Bonding in the NICU

Every baby benefits from bonding with parents through physical touch, which is why we encourage skin-to-skin time. For the smallest newborns or those with critical conditions, we encourage sitting bedside and reading aloud, even if physical touch is impossible. We also encourage parents to become part of rounding on Mondays and Thursdays. This gives parents a chance to stay involved and informed in every aspect of their child’s care, including plan of care, discharge planning and education.

Our NICU team members realize that having a baby in the NICU makes your newborn experience different. They go above and beyond to include our parents in important milestones and holidays, creating special keepsakes for events such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Thanksgiving.

Common conditions for NICU admission

NICUs are able to treat many types of medical conditions affecting newborns. Some of the most common reasons for admission include:

  • Premature birth (born before 37 weeks)
  • Respiratory issues
  • Respiratory distress syndrome (difficulty breathing due to premature lungs)
  • Transient tachypnea of the newborn (fluid retention in the lungs)
  • Sepsis or infection
  • Inability to regulate body temperature
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes caused by a build-up of the chemical bilirubin)
  • Anemia
  • Feeding difficulties (our NICU is supported by an Occupational Therapist who works with babies on an individual basis)
  • Macrosomia (newborns born larger than eight pounds, thirteen ounces)
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)