11 Ways To Take Care Of A Premature Baby At Home
November 27, 2018 Posted by: Sai Siva Childrens Hospital 702 Views RSS
Pregnancy is one of the greatest gifts of life bestowed upon women. Bringing a new life into this world is something extraordinary, and women are indeed fortunate to have this unique ability. While there is a specific period for the baby to grow sufficiently in the mother’s womb, sometimes, your baby can arrive a little early. That could be somewhere before 37 weeks resulting in premature delivery. While preterm birth is becoming common these days, they grow up to be healthy, but sometimes might need that extra care and they are extremely delicate and prone to various problems & infections easily at birth. You might wonder how you would be able to care for your baby once you are discharged from the hospital, but this is nothing to worry about, with a few helpful tips on how to take care of your premature baby, you’ll be able to care for your baby in no time.
Why does a premature baby need special care?
A premature baby requires special care and monitoring which depends on how early he/she has arrived before the 37 weeks of pregnancy. Due to which, the baby may have a few underdeveloped organs, which requires special care before the baby is discharged and taken home. The baby may also have a few characteristics which are different as compared to a full-term baby. However, as the with time all that makes the child different from a full term baby change and the baby grows stronger.
Characteristics of a preterm baby:
- Your baby may have low body fat. Fat is crucial to generate and maintain body heat in newborns.
- The baby may have difficulty while sometimes feeding, due to the baby being too small or being unable to latch onto you for breastfeeding.
- Preterm babies are more prone to infections, as their immunity levels are deficient. A preterm baby is kept in an incubator for a certain period immediately after birth, to give the same comfort and atmosphere as in the mother’s womb. This is essential because premature babies take time to adjust with the outer world and need to get acquainted with the new atmosphere gradually.
- Sometimes the baby’s movements might differ from a full-term baby; they may have languid and jerky movements if the baby is born in the 29th or 32nd week of pregnancy. This is also due to less body fat present in a preterm baby.
- The baby’s nervous system might not have adequately developed, due to a preterm delivery, which would require your baby to be monitored in a neonatal care unit (incubator).
What should you ask your doctor before discharge?
There are many questions which might come to your mind before you and your baby are discharged. In case you forget, we have made a small list of items for you to ask your doctor.
Here are a few questions you can ask your doctor for adequate premature infant care:
- What can you do to help your baby develop at a healthy pace?
- When can you let your baby meet with your family members or other people?
- Is your premature baby prone to any chronic health conditions?
Tips to take care of your premature baby at home
Maintaining body temperature and hygiene
Preterm babies do not have enough systems to maintain their body temperature and are prone to hypothermia, always keep your covered in cotton clothing and use bonnet gloves and socks, keep examining the baby’s extremities using the back of your hand to make sure your baby is always warm. Keep the room temperature at 27C.
Kangaroo mother care (KMC) helps your baby to maintain body temperature and also helps in good weight ageing as well as brain development. It is always wise to maintain hygiene while handling preterm babies avoid multiple people handling the baby, wash hands before and after handling the baby.
Feeding your baby. Breastfeeding is an ideal choice for a full-term or a preterm baby, but due to the baby being too small they might experience difficulty latching onto the breast at first. To make the feeding process more manageable, you can pump the breast milk called as expressed breast milk and feed it to your baby by a spoon or more ideally a payday, to ensure your baby is adequately fed. Sometimes, your doctor might even recommend a baby formula milk, as there are unique formulas made especially for premature babies. So ensure you ask your doctor which milk is the most suitable for your baby to get complete nutrition.
Follow a timely feeding schedule. It is essential for any baby to be fed on-time every day, and if the baby is premature, they might require to be fed 8-10 times a day. Therefore, ensure there isn’t a gap of more than 3 hours after your baby is fed; to avoid any chances of dehydration, as preterm babies are prone to be dehydrated quite often.
Record and update your baby’s growth. I’m sure by now you are aware that preterm babies grow slightly different compared to a full-term baby. But, this doesn’t mean they won’t catch up, with the help of a growing chart given by your doctor. You can monitor and record your baby’s growth as time passes by. This will help you understand what your baby’s growth rate is and also help pinpoint any particular issues which can be rectified immediately.
Always stay in touch with your doctor. Keeping in constant touch with your doctor should be your number one priority, as this helps you and your doctor understand your baby’s health and monitor your baby’s progress in growth. Your doctor is your guide in helping you take care of your baby at home; they will also help you by suggesting the most helpful tips to ensure your baby is always safe and healthy. If you have any questions or queries, your doctor can also help you resolve them immediately, without you unnecessarily visiting the clinic.
Learn CPR and get specialized training. This is the most important and crucial of all the tips in taking care of a premature baby. Sometimes, preterm babies have difficulties in breathing, which can result in the baby breathing slowly and might even pause. Learning how to perform CPR will help you take care of any baby if there is an emergency. This training is also given at the hospital if the baby is choking or not breathing normally. So, this is nothing to worry about, rather than make you feel confident in taking care of your baby. This is also a helpful tip which can be used on anyone in case of an emergency.
Ensure your baby has proper sleep requirements. As we know, babies require a lot of sleep, but did you know premature babies need more sleep compared to full-term babies. Your preterm baby would spend most of his/her time sleeping. Make sure your baby’s crib has a firm mattress with no pillows, as this will help the baby’s back get the right amount of support. And also make sure or check your baby is always sleeping on its back, head end elevated.
Ask your doctor before giving your baby solid food. As we mentioned earlier, your baby might require a particular type of formula, before they are breastfed. They might also need to wait before they are fed solid food items because they might find it difficult to swallow the food. Your doctor may recommend you to introduce your baby to these food items when they are 6 months old, which is considered from the time of your preterm delivery date.
Try and limit outdoor visits with your baby. Since your baby is still growing, it is best to avoid taking your baby in crowded places outdoors. This will help prevent the transfer of any infections, as the baby’s immune system is still in its developing stages. Preterm babies are more prone to infections compared to a full-term baby, which means you need to keep in mind to protect your baby from any infection possible for several weeks before you take the baby outdoors.
Practice kangaroo care as recommended by your doctor. This is quite a popular practice advised by doctors, and the kangaroo technique is when you and your baby have skin to skin contact. Kangaroo care has proven to effective as this helps you and your baby bond and also share body heat which is also considered to be comforting for your baby and you.
Make sure your baby is given the right vaccinations at the right time. Every baby is advised and required to be vaccinated by medical professionals, to avoid any unnecessary health issues from developing. So, make sure to keep a record and track your baby’s recommended immunization schedule, to prevent any complications from occurring.
Restrict lots of visitors from visiting your baby. As the baby’s immunity level is still low, it is best to avoid and limit visitors at your home. This also applies to people who smoke, or who are unwell at the moment from visiting your home and your baby. Your baby still requires a lot of special care, in which your baby can grow healthy, and is always safe from any infections. If anyone does wish to touch the baby, make sure they wash their hands before they do so. Following these simple tips, you can take care of your premature baby the right way, and avoid any hindrances along the way. Making the right choices and changes, as recommended by your doctor, will prove to be highly beneficial for you and the baby. If you are still confused, or doubtful on how to take care of your premature baby, then you can consult our experienced paediatricians at Sai Siva Children’s Hospital.
After all, a healthy baby is a happy baby!
About the Hospital:
Sai Siva Children’s Hospital, Chanda Nagar, is a full-fledged medical facility specially designed for pediatric patients as well as young adults. The hospital was started in the year 2008, with the aim of reaching out to schools and villages to educate the middle and high school students about health & hygiene. Sai Siva Children’s Hospital is one of the most sought-after children’s hospitals in Hyderabad with a team of experienced doctors and skilled staff who aim to help your child have healthy growth and development. We believe that children today are the future of our world, and must have good health to make the world a better place to live in.
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