What to Expect at the NICU

We make every effort to keep you and your baby comfortable. Care at Doernbecher’s NICU includes:

  • Expert, immediate treatment 24/7, tailored to your baby’s needs.
  • A nurturing environment with physical and emotional support.
  • A range of providers who can help you with breast pumping and other care.

Learn about the care and excellence at Doernbecher’s NICU.

A photo of a baby in Doernbecher Children's Hospital's NICU with a provider reaching in and touching its knee with a finger.

Visiting the NICU

Please see our COVID-19 Resources page for our visitor policy during the pandemic.

  • Visiting hours: Parents are welcome in the NICU around the clock. Two other adults visitors are allowed any time except shift changes, 6:30-7:30 a.m. and 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Security: Only approved guests may enter the NICU. Parents can designate two additional adults who are approved to see their baby. They’ll need to show ID to get in.
  • Siblings: We don’t allow children to visit the NICU at this time.
  • Health screening: At the front desk, visitors must answer a few questions about their health before entering. This takes a few minutes. It helps protect babies from infections.
  • Hand-washing: We’ll ask visitors to wash their hands when entering the NICU and before contact with their baby.

What you can bring

To protect patients, we have a few restrictions on what visitors can bring:

  • Stuffed animals are not allowed in beds.
  • Flowers and plants are not allowed.
  • Mylar balloons are allowed, but latex balloons are not.
  • Don’t wear jewelry or watches; this helps us prevent infections.
  • Keep your cellphone sealed in a zip-top bag. Cellphones carry germs and are hard to clean. We have extra bags if you need one.

Family-centered care

Parent participation: You are an essential part of the primary care team and involved in every aspect of your baby’s care. We encourage you to take part in daily rounds with doctors and nurses to help plan your baby’s treatment. We can tell you about what time we will round on your baby each day.

Asking questions: You can always ask us questions during your visit. If we can't answer right away, we will connect you with someone who can. When you are not in the NICU, you can call us 24/7 at 503-494-8122.

Individual care: Our neonatologists and nurses monitor your baby around the clock and provide immediate care.

Music therapist: We provide music therapy once a week. An instrumentalist trained in soothing techniques plays in the NICU general area. If you are visiting during music therapy, you can ask the musician to play in your baby’s area.

Clothes closet: You may not have had a chance to bring a change of clothes when your baby was admitted, or your clothing may become soiled while you’re here. OHSU's social services team can give you a change of clothes if you need it. Just ask us to reach out to them for you.

Refreshment and activity cart: Every other Thursday, Ronald McDonald House Charities offers free snacks, beverages, toiletries and activity items such as playing cards and coloring books.

Your baby’s care area

Our NICU can treat up to 46 babies at a time. Your baby will be in a pod with three to seven other babies and families. Your area can be screened for privacy. Many parents become close to other families in the pod, and take comfort knowing a nurse is always visible.

Your baby’s bed: Your baby will be in a bed specifically chosen to meet your baby’s needs. Beds can include equipment such as phototherapy lights.

Furniture: You’ll have a reclining chair that lets you have skin-to-skin contact with your baby (kangaroo care).

Lactation rooms: We have two lactation pods nearby, one on the 12th floor and one on the 13th floor. 


Your baby’s equipment may include:

  • Feeding tube: This is a small tube inserted through the nose or mouth to the stomach. We use it to deliver formula, pumped breast milk or medication.
  • Infant warmer: Some beds have radiant heaters over them. You can usually touch your baby in the warmer, but check with the staff first.
  • Incubator: These are small beds enclosed by clear, hard plastic so we can control and monitor the temperature. Openings let you touch your baby.
  • IV line: This is a thin, flexible tube placed in a vein with a small needle. We use it to deliver fluids and medications.
  • Monitors: Your baby will be attached to computers with wires so we can monitor vital signs.
  • Phototherapy: We use fluorescent lights attached to a baby’s bed or incubator to treat jaundice. Jaundice, common in premature infants, causes yellowing of the skin and eyes. It usually occurs because the liver is not yet able to clear a substance called bilirubin from the bloodstream. Treatment is usually needed for only a few days.
  • Ventilator or other respiratory support: Babies who need help breathing may have a breathing tube placed through their mouth into their windpipe (trachea), or they may receive oxygen that flows through a mask or nose inserts.

Learn more

Infant development


For families

Questions? Please call us at 503-494-8122.


Parking is free for patients and their visitors.

OHSU Hospital
3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road, 12th floor
Portland, OR 97239
Map and directions

Doernbecher NICU (Level II)
Hillsboro Medical Center
335 S.E. Eighth Ave.
Hillsboro, OR 97123

Refer a patient

Music is medicine

Photo of music therapy session in the NICU

An instrumentalist who plays in the NICU helps the heart and breathing rates of newborns.