Babies are fragile and need special care. In case of babies that are born prematurely, the amount of attention needed increases many fold and parents need to be extra careful and attentive. A baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy is said to be a premature baby. The earlier the baby is born, the higher the risk of complications.
Most premature babies spend the first few days after birth in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This is because they may have trouble breathing and may need help maintaining body heat. Though you may feel helpless watching your baby, it is important to spend time with your baby while he or she is in the NICU. Talk to the baby and touch him or her. As soon as your doctor allows, carry your baby while allowing him or her to have maximum skin to skin contact.
It is important to breastfeed a premature baby. Breast milk is the richest source of nutrition for your baby and is easy to digest. It is also rich in antibodies that help boost a bay’s immunity and protect them against a number of infections. If you cannot feed your baby directly, pump your breast milk and store it in sterilised bottles to be given to the baby. Premature babies can get critically ill very fast. To prevent this from happening, it is important to build a good rapport with your baby’s doctors and keep a close eye on your baby. Maintaining a journal can help you recognise changes in your baby’s development. Watch out for subtle signs that your baby could be falling ill. Some of these signs are:
In some cases, the mother may be discharged before the baby. This may seem very difficult, but does not need to limit your time with your baby. Caring for a premature baby is tough and hence use the time away to rest and recuperate. Remember that your baby is in safe hands and do not let yourself get too stressed.
Your baby will be ready to come home once he or she can breathe on their own and is able to maintain a steady body temperature. Your doctor may also wait until the baby can be breastfed and begins gaining weight before discharging him or her. Once the baby is home, do not attempt to be the sole caregiver but involve your family in building a team of caregivers. This will keep you from getting burnt out and will ensure that your baby is constantly monitored. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a pediatrician.