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Did you know that one in every ten babies in the United States is born prematurely? Babies born before 37 weeks gestation are considered to be preemies.
Depending on what week gestation they’re born, preemies may have a considerable amount of extra care and attention they’ll need to thrive.
If you’re feeling apprehensive about how this whole parenthood thing is going to work, you’re not alone. Nearly every parent feels nervous and terrified in the first few weeks.
To help take some of that new parenthood stress off you, we’ve compiled a list of the best preemie care tips you’ll need to survive the first few weeks home with your little one. Read on to help ease your mind.
In This Post:
1. Relish in Skin-to-Skin Contact
Even if you can’t hold your baby in your arms yet, we recommend getting in as much touching time as you can during babies first weeks.
Once your little one is stable enough to be held, the hospital will probably recommend beginning “Kangaroo Care.” This is a technique where the baby lays on its mother’s bare chest with its head on the chest above her heart.
There are a lot of benefits to Kangaroo Care for preemies, including regulating their temperature and providing deeper sleep, which will help their little bodies perform other necessary tasks to get them healthy.
2. Feed Them When Permitted To
Depending on how early your baby arrived and how developed (or undeveloped) their body systems are, they may require IV fluids initially.
Once their body has gained strength, you may be allowed to try your hand at feeding them yourself. Breastfeeding a preemie may prove to be a challenging endeavor, but with a lactation consultant (and a lot of patience) on your side, it’ll be a little easier.
Your breastmilk is the healthiest thing your baby can ingest and will provide them with the antibodies they need to stay healthy. You may need to use a breast pump to encourage your milk supply in those first few days and weeks after your baby is born if they’re not strong enough to breastfeed.
3. Get the Right Equipment and Supplies
Before you can take your little one home with you, make sure you have all of the required equipment and supplies necessary to properly take care of them outside of the hospital environment.
If they require any medical supplies or medication, make sure you’re talking with their medical team to ensure you know how to operate any machinery they have and that you have all the details you need about their medicine.
You may even need to purchase a preemie car seat depending on your baby’s weight.
To make sure you don’t forget anything, we recommend you start a “Bringing Baby Home Checklist” with lists of things to do and what you’ll need to make the transition easier on everyone.
4. Limit Visitors
Bringing a baby into the world is an exciting time. Everyone and their Uncle will probably want to come over to welcome your little one.
The problem with having too many visitors, especially with a preemie, is that they’ll be bringing germs with them. Don’t feel pressured to allow everyone to hold your baby. You’re allowed to say “no” until their immune system isn’t as compromised anymore.
If your visitors insist on holding your bundle of joy, make sure they’re washing their hands with warm water and soap beforehand.
5. Enjoy This Time
Having a baby is a joyous, stressful, nerve-wracking, stressful, and beautiful time in any new parents life and having a preemie exacerbates all of those feelings, particularly the negative ones. It can be hard to remember to take a moment and enjoy this beautiful new chapter you’ve just opened in your life.
If you’re feeling particularly stressed out about the care required for your new baby, reach out for help from your child’s medical team or friends and family members. It takes a village to raise a child, after all, and having a strong support team can prove to be invaluable during this time.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself during all of the hustle and bustle of having a baby to care for. Your body did just go through a lot in growing and birthing your child. Listen to all of your doctor’s recommendations and take cues from your body if you’re pushing it too hard.
Once your medical team has given you and your little one the OK for your discharge after birth, be gentle with yourselves. The first year is the hardest and, while we won’t say it’s smooth sailing after that, you’ll hopefully at least be a little less underslept to handle whatever parenthood throws your direction.
It might seem like eons away when you’re overtired and exhausted, but it won’t be long before your little one is begging you to buy them the newest ridiculous toy fad or buy jumping castle and other inflatables for their birthday parties.
Preemie Care 101
Now that you have some of the most basic preemie care tips, you hopefully feel a little more prepared to bring your tiny human home. If you’re still feeling a bit apprehensive about this whole parenthood thing, be sure to check out our blog for more tips for new moms.