Preemies - Tips on Preparing and Caring for a Preemie

Preemies - having a premature baby is stressful on the parents and the child. Although every mother wants to have a healthy, full-term baby, sometimes things don't work out the way you planned. Since some women (usually those having multiple births, in particular triplets) know that their babies will be born premature, this article tells you how to plan for having the baby and how to care for the baby once it has been discharged. (My mother, Linda Pickford, has been a registered nurse in the N.I.C.U. (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for over thirty years. We can thank her for all of these insightful tips.)

Planning for Preemies

  • If you've been informed by your doctor that you will most likely give birth prematurely, the most important thing you can do is take excellent care of yourself. If you're working, quit. Get plenty of rest.
  • If you've been put on bed rest, that means bed rest. Remaining comfortably in bed for the duration of your pregnancy allows you to maintain it as long as possible.
  • Arrange for help around the house. If you have a husband, ask him to read this article. It is essential that he do most of the household chores. He should do all of them if you're on bed rest.
  • Talk to your family and friends, tell them what the doctor said and ask for their love and support.

A child who has been prematurely will spend time in N.I.C.U. Typically, the infant is discharged when he can "nipple all his feeds" and has no other problems. (Babies who are tube fed are usually not sent home unless they have a tube that goes directly into the stomach.) Babies can go home on oxygen.

Caring for Preemies Once They're Home

  • Preemies are more fragile than full-term newborns because usually, they have suffered respiratory and/or cardiovascular problems.
  • It is a dangerous for a preemie to get a cold because this can lead to a cascade of events which results in your baby going back to the hospital. Do your utmost to keep your baby warm and comfortable. When you bathe the baby, make sure there are no drafts and blot his skin until it's dry. Babies tend to lose a lot of body heat through the top of their heads, so make sure your baby wears a hat. Check to make sure that the baby's hands and feet are warm. (With a full-term baby, you watch for a fever to know that something's wrong, for a preemie, the biggest concern is a drop in body heat.)
  • Preemies are prone to RSV (Respiratory Syncitial Virus). This virus is dangerous to premature babies. It's like a very bad cold and is transmitted like any virus. The best way to avoid transmission of the virus is to wash your hands before touching your baby and insist that anyone who touches your baby washes their hands even if they insist their hands are clean.
  • Avoid taking your baby to places where there are crowds of people because by doing so, you are potentially exposing him or her to viruses.
  • If you have other children who attend preschool or school, make sure they also wash their hands before touching the baby.
  • Your baby should have 6-8 wet diapers per day, which indicates that he is well-hydrated and nourished.
  • Make and keep regular appointments with your pediatrician to monitor your baby's health and development.
  • It is important to breast feed. A lactation expert at the hospital where my mom works says that giving your baby formula is like taking him to McDonald's. Nothing approximates the nutritional value of mother's milk. In addition to that it's a mutually satisfying way to bond.
  • If you are breast feeding, make sure you eat properly, get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids.

According to my mother, she loves working in N.I.C.U. because "almost everyone gets to home a present." Take care of your gift. If you love and care for your baby, while taking care of yourself, your preemie will soon catch up to those who were born full-term.

About the author: Laura Ramirez has been writing and posting articles to her web site for over nine years. Please consider leaving a donation for Laura so that you can support her continuing efforts and enjoy the spirit of giving too.

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Laura is the author of the award-winning parenting book, Keepers of the Children. The book teaches parents how to raise children to develop their natural strengths and lead uniquely purposeful and fulfilling lives. It is a journey of self-discovery for child and parent.

Preemies - Pregnancy Advice


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