Your baby will require special treatment and care if he has arrived before 37 weeks. A normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, and the baby born before the 37th week is known as a premature or pre-term baby. Though most pre-term baby goes on to develop normally, they still need special care and supervision according to how early he arrived.
Caring Tips of a Premature Baby you should know as a parent
You may want your baby to spend a few days in the neonatal intensive care unit for better health and recovery, but soon you will be getting him home. A pre-term baby may have different characteristics in comparison to a full-term baby, but with a period of time, these characteristics may become less noticeable. Medical advancements have ensured the survival of more than 9 out of 10 premature infants.
Characteristics of Premature Babies
- An average full-term baby weighs about 3.18 kg at birth, while a premature newborn might weighs only 2.27 kg or even less. A baby born after twenty-eight weeks of pregnancy has almost a full chance of survival, all thanks to the medical advancements. Whereas those premature babies born before twenty-eight weeks have many complications and require intensive care in a hospital.
- A Premature baby may not move much due to the low body fat percentage. He may have abrupt or jerky movements if born around 29th to 32nd week.
- He may have breathing difficulties as the lungs of preterm babies are not developed fully.
- If the baby is born before the 26th week, he may have sealed eyes.
- The baby lacks lanugo, fine hair that covers your baby’s body. However, a baby born closer to the date of delivery may have this fine fuzz or hair.
- Premature babies tend to have very low immunity, which can make them more vulnerable to infections and diseases.
- Part of the nervous system in your baby may not have developed properly.
- Premature baby faces the problem with feeding and thus, may not feed properly.
Tips for your premature baby you should know as a parent that may help you in taking care of them properly-
1. Feeding Your Baby
Ideally breastfeed is the only way to feed your just born baby. But a pre-term baby may have a problem in latching or may not be able to latch at all. In this case, you can pump breast milk and feed it on the bottle. Sometimes, doctors also advise feeding infant formula milk to babies which may be special formula milk for premature babies. A manufactured food designed and marketed for feeding to babies and infants less than 1 year of age, usually made for bottle-feeding or cup-feeding, is known as Infant formula or first milk.
2. Keep Record Of Your Baby’s Growth
Till now, we have understood that a pre-term baby grows differently than full-term babies. However, with a period of time, they eventually catch up. For better understanding, your doctor may provide you a growth chart to monitor the baby’s growth at different stages.
3. Take Care Of Your Baby’s Sleep Position
Remember, a premature baby requires a lot of sleep, so most of the time he might be sleeping only. Make sure that he lies on a good firm mattress with no pillows on his back and never on his stomach.
4. No Solid Food
A preterm baby may find it difficult to swallow food, so avoid giving solid food to your baby. Try to introduce solids at around 5 to 6 months after your baby’s actual delivery date. Doctors also advise the same. Or maybe your doctor can guide you more accurately, looking at the baby’s condition.
5. Limit Your Baby’s Outdoor Visits
This is one of the most important precautions you should take for your baby’s health. Apart from visiting the doctor, refrain from taking your baby out unnecessarily for several months. This is because a pre-term baby is more prone to catch infections and diseases, which could be fatal for him.
6. Practice kangaroo care
The skin-to-skin contact with the baby by holding him in an upright position against a parent’s bare chest is known as kangaroo care. In the process, the baby is typically naked except for a diaper, placed on your chest and you turn the baby head to one side so that his or her ear is against your heart. Holding your infant close to your chest is a wonderful feeling and experience that will really create a connection between you and the new member of your family. Usually, kangaroo care is done at a hospital, under the supervision of professional doctors and experts.
Some benefits of kangaroo care to your baby include:
- It can improve a baby’s breathing pattern.
- It improves oxygen saturation levels in baby.
- It stabilizes your baby’s heart rate.
- Through regular practice, babies can experience more rapid weight gain.
- It may reduce crying.
- As a mother, you may have more successful breastfeeding episodes.
- The best part is that your baby can have an earlier hospital discharge.
Also remember, to treat yourself well by eating healthy and getting enough sleep and rest. You can seek help, support, and encouragement from family and friends, doctors, support groups, or online communities. Though premature babies require extra care compared to normal full-term babies, with a period of time they may accomplish all health and developmental milestones like other babies.
Published on: 22nd July 2020