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Premature babies, often called “preemies”, are babies that are born before the pregnancy reaches full term of 38 to 42 weeks. Several factors can contribute to a premature birth, including the lifestyle of the mother throughout the pregnancy. Cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, poor diet, inadequate weight gain, poor prenatal care and physical stress can all attribute to the delivery of a premature baby.
However, many times, the cause of preterm delivery is complete out of the mother’s control. For instance, the mother could have an abnormal uterus, hormone imbalance, infection, chronic illness or a number of other factors that could result in premature delivery. Preterm births are more likely to occur if the mother is older than thirty-five years of age, under nineteen or pregnant with more than one baby. Sometimes the cause for premature delivery remains unknown.
Premature babies have several special needs that make caring for them different from full term babies and typically start out life in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. The neonatal intensive care unit is specially designed to provide a low stress environment that provides the basic needs of a premature baby, such as nutrition, protection and warmth to aid proper development and growth.
With the many advancements in health care of premature babies, over ninety percent of premature babies weighing 800 grams or better grow up to lead normal, healthy lives. For babies weighing over 500 grams, the likelihood of complications is increased with only forty to fifty percent surviving.
Keeping The Baby Warm
Premature babies do not have the body fat like full term babies that is needed to keep warm, even if they are swaddled in blankets. Radiant warmers or incubators are necessary to help the babies stay warm.
A radiant warmer is an electrically-warmed bed that is mostly open. These are used when the premature baby requires frequent attention and care from the medical team.
An incubator is like a little protective box made out of transparent plastic. Incubators surround the baby completely, keeping her or him warm. They also limit the amount of water loss and keep the baby safe from infection.
Babies that are born prematurely grow faster than babies that are full term. Premature babies also have immature digestive systems. Therefore, babies born before full term need special nutritional care.
Breast milk is a great source of nutrition; however, premature babies are not developed enough to be able to drink directly from the breast or a bottle until that are between thirty-two and thirty-four weeks of gestational age. Premature babies must be fed as a slow pace in order to prevent the development of necrotizing enterocolitis, which is an intestinal infection that only affects premature babies.
Premature babies are prone to several problems, primarily because of underdeveloped internal organs. A number of blogs on the Internet are dedicated to providing information and support to the mothers of premature babies. Here are some of the best places to learn how to take the best possible care of your newborn preemie:
- Preemies Then Twins
- TwiceBabies Mom
- Life in Holland
- Bern Bern
- Three Little Peanuts
- Amy George’s Working Wonders Blog
- Tulip and Turnip
- Parenting Preemies
- Preemie Twins Blog
- Info spot 4 the special tot
Mary Ward blogs about how to apply to online sonography programs.