Having a premature baby

If your baby is born before 34 weeks。ヲ gestation, chances are that he will need to remain ins a Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) because he will require special medical attention to help him do the things that a full-term baby can do: breathe on his own, maintain his own body temperature and suckle milk.

It。ヲs important to recognize that the outcome for each baby is different, because it。ヲs difficult to predict the effects of prematurity on each baby. For example, a baby born at 32 weeks may face more challenges than a baby born at 28 weeks. You may feel very anxious for your baby。ヲs future, but there are so many uncertainties in NICU that the only way may be to take things one day at a time.

 Parents of newborn premature babies

Parents of newborn premature babies may feel shock and despair. It is common to feel overwhelmed by what you see in NICU, as well as the unknown road ahead. You may also feel helpless, because the care of your baby is in the hands of the NICU staff, and not in your own hands.

Mothers may feel especially emotional when post-pregnancy hormones are taken into account. While the dedicated team of NICU doctors and nurses are taking care of your baby, you may want to take the opportunity to give priority to yourself: take care of yourself with lots of rest and nourishment in the first few weeks post-delivery to allow your body to recover and be in good shape to take care of your baby when he comes home.
 The NICU environment

With the constant sound of alarms and other things, NICU can be a very intimidating environment for new parents. It may help to make the most of your baby。ヲs stay in NICU by getting yourself oriented in NICU. Make yourself comfortable by knowing the following:

(1)Your baby。ヲs feeding schedule
(2)The schedule for doctors。ヲ rounds
(3)Visiting hours and visitation policy for other family members
(4)Places for taking a break when you neesd to You may also want to keep a notepad handy to record your baby。ヲs daily routine, doctors。ヲ comments about your baby。ヲs status, or any questions you want to ask the doctor later.
 Spending time in NICU

At the beginning, all you can do is speak or sing to your baby during visiting hours, and perhaps provide expressed breastmilk. That may seem like very little compared to what the NICU is doing for your baby, or even compared to what parents of healthy newborn babies are doing. However, your presence really is comforting to your baby.

As your baby grows and becomes stronger, you will be able to care for him by holding him, changing his diapers, feeding and bathing him. The more time you spend helping with his care, the less helpless you will feel, the more you will understand your baby。ヲs needs, and the more confident you will be about the transition from hospital to home.

Even if you are at the hospital for ten hours a day, it is very likely that a significant part of that time is spent in the waiting area, because visitors are not permitted in NICU during doctors。ヲ rounds, specialist appointments, patient procedures, etc. When you are emotionally ready, you may wish to spend this 。ァdown time。ィ to introduce yourself to other parents that you recognize in NICU. You may feel some comfort from sharing your feelings and fears with other parents of premature babies who are currently going through experiences similar to yours.
 No news is good news

It is natural for parents to desire updates about their baby。ヲs condition all the time. However, realistically doctors can。ヲt talk to all parents every single day. You should feel assured that your baby is being taken care of by a team of dedicated doctors and nurses doing their best to fight for the best possible outcomes for the baby. Given the constraints, doctors don。ヲt usually initiate talks with parents unless there is a major turning point, for better or for worse. For the most part, you will gradually learn that 。ァNo news is good news.。ィ Always remember that your baby is also a fighter beyond your imagination, as we former parents have all found out.
 Going back home

The seemingly endless wait and all the anguish at NICU will be quickly forgotten when the baby returns home. It is most important that parents are physically and mentally prepared to take care of a premature baby at home. Parents should therefore take enough rests, avoid exhausting themselves physically and mentally, and feel confident about being a parent yourself.

Back at home, premature babies do not need to be treated differently from full-term newborns. However, generally speaking, premature babies are more sensitive and more easily overstimulated than full-term newborns. Each baby reacts differently to the transition from hospital to home. In general, babies who have been intubated take a longer time to be fed because they have more difficulty coordinating the necessary muscles for this purpose initially. However this will be out-grown quickly and will not cause long-term issues. You will take joy in finding that the baby grows more quickly now. Some babies may need oxygen supplementation at home but again, this will become unnecessary as the baby grows (think of oxygen as another vitamin). In addition, parents vary in terms of the degree to which they practice hygiene, take the baby out, allow visitors, and structure the home environment. For example, some parents avoid visitors initially in the fear that they may bring germs into the home. Others leave a light or radio on around the crib in order to simulate the NICU environment. Parents should do what makes them feel comfortable and they wil soon find out what。ヲs best for their own baby.

Even after discharge, members of PPSG, who are experienced parents, are still ready to help.
 Growing up as a preemie

Parents will always worry about their children, whether premature or not. You may often wonder whether your premature baby is going to be all right, but remember that premature babies are fighters! Although your baby。ヲs corrected age is a good indicator for developmental milestones, it is generally harder to predict the development of premature babies because they are born at different gestational ages and have different types of complications.

In terms of any long-term developmental problems, many problems, such as learning disabilities, may not be detectable until your child has reached school age. Generally speaking, the more premature the baby is, the more likely there may be developmental problems. Although no one can say for sure, most developmental problems will be out-grown. The hospital will provide follow-up or refer you to different service providers so that any developmental problem will be identified and treated early. Studies have shown that many developmental delays, such as dyslexia, can be greatly improved with early intervention. You will find that time is a best friend; with time, many issues will be diminished or disappear. Be patient!