Caring for a Premature Baby
When faced with the birth of a premature baby, all parents want to do what is best for their newborn. Caring for a baby born too soon can be challenging, but being proactive and understanding the importance of your own self-care will help make the experience easier.
1. Prepare Ahead of Time
As much as you can, familiarize yourself with the medical challenges that may arise with premature birth. Make sure to research your local hospital and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and their protocols for care. Remember that your baby’s care will be a team effort with specialists such as neonatologists, pediatricians and nurses forming an important part of that team.
2. Understanding Premature Birth
Premature babies usually have difficulty breathing and eating, as well as immature organs and immature skin. Delivering a premature baby can be distressing, so it’s important to become educated on what to expect.
3. Get Practical and Prepared
Stock up on preemie-sized diapers and clothes. Preemie diapers are sold in most retail outlets, but clothing may be harder to find. Talk to your doctor or visit a preemie car seat retailer to find preemie-sized baby clothing including car seats, sleep sacks, and swaddles.
4. Self Care
The NICU environment can be stressful for parents. You may experience a multitude of emotions; it’s important to work on building your self-care routine. Here’s a list of ways to look after yourself:
- Exercise – make sure to fit personal exercise into your schedule.
- Eat well – make sure to maintain a well-balanced diet that will support your needs for physical and emotional stamina.
- Sleep – make sure to try to get as much rest as possible.
- Terms and Conditions – make sure to learn the terms and conditions of your baby’s care and the policies in the unit.
5. Bonding and Support
Bonding with your baby can be a wonderful experience, no matter the circumstances. Spending time getting to know the newborn and expressing love though stroke, touch, and eye contact will make all the difference. Make sure to keep friends and family informed about your baby’s condition, so you can get the support and care you need to be successful.
Caring for a premature baby may be demanding, but following these steps will create an environment of love and support that will help calm any of your worries and make the experience more enjoyable.