The usual full term for a pregnancy is usually around 39 to 40 weeks which varies slightly from woman to woman. However, if your baby is born before the 37th week, then he or she may be considered preterm or to have a premature birth. Premature babies are at a higher risk of infections and may also face a lot of other complications such as low birth weight, anemia, apnea or difficulty in breathing. Some pre-term babies may also end up developing hearing and vision impairments along with developmental problems, learning disabilities and other chronic health problems throughout their lives.
How to take care of your preterm baby?
Although your preterm baby may be predisposed to certain problems, if you take care of them well enough then none of the complications or health problems may occur and they will end up having a normal life like other babies who have been delivered after the full term. Initially, your baby may be kept in a NICU or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for a few days until the doctors can describe them out of danger.
Some of the things that you can do as parents during that period are mentioned as follows:
- Ensure a supply of breast milk: It is important for you to have an ample supply of breast milk stored as and when your baby needs it. Breast milk helps fight infections as well as provides important nutrients for your baby’s development. Your preterm baby may not be able to have breast milk initially and thus you may have to store them via refrigeration.
- Ask for supplements to breast milk for your baby: Your preterm baby may not be able to have breast milk immediately after birth. It is thus important to discuss with the doctor about the right milk supplements which can be given to your baby to help with their nutrition and development.
- If you have concerns, immediately bring them up: It is important to share any changes in your baby’s health with your doctor and bring up any concerns with them. They may not seem very significant, but it still makes sense to let the doctors know as it may indicate other serious problems that may develop.
- Gather and stay on top of information: It is important to gather as much information as possible for the condition of your child and prepare yourself before you take your child home. Ask the doctors and other medical staff at hand what is being done and what you will need to do once your baby is discharged.
- Connect with your baby: Even if your baby was born early, you can have skin to skin contact with him or her as long as the precautions have been properly followed. Also, sing and talk to your baby as you would to a normal child as this would help build closeness and emotional connect between the two of you. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!