Months of waiting, week after week of discomfort, days full of anticipation and preparation and nights spent twisting and turning not knowing which is the best position to sleep in! But all this is quickly forgotten as you see the face of your little one, healthy and happy.
But what happens when the baby arrives much before time or is premature? When a baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy it is called a premature delivery. Premature babies are very delicate and need special care from not only the hospital but also the mother. So here are a few things that you must be aware of in case your baby comes before time:
Looking after a premature baby
- Your touch is important: All babies need the touch and feel of their mothers and a premature baby needs it even more. Even if the baby has been kept in an incubator you must make it a point to touch the baby, caress and cradle it.
- His crib: A premature baby needs the same cushiony feel of a womb. So make his crib a womb, a nest full of soft rolled cushions so that he is comfortable and secure as well as warm.
- Breastfeed: Make it a point to breast feed him even if it means extracting your milk and feeding from a bottle. Breast milk is very important for building his immunity levels. If the baby can breastfeed naturally, then you must make all the effort from your side.
- Talk to your baby: Your baby can hear, so talk to him or sing your favorite lullabies and make him feel that you are always there for him. You may feel that he is not responding but you would be surprised to know that your baby can sense everything. The only thing is that he may not be able to communicate it well enough.
Caring at home
Once you are at home, you need to be even more careful. Follow these tips:
- Keep the baby as warm as possible
- Always wash your hands before picking up the baby
- Keep the room of the baby and the surroundings clean and hygienic
- Keep dust out
- Limit the number of visitors for some time
- If you are using a bottle, sterilize it properly
- Use only boiled water
- Learn to take the baby’s temperature and administer medication
Looking after yourself
- Coping with your own emotions: You might feel guilty, frustrated, helpless and angry. That is understandable as going through a delivery itself is tough and taxing. Added to that is the fact that you have had a premature delivery. So give yourself space to feel all these emotions Ask your husband to help you so that you can unwind.
- Coping with your physical needs: Looking after your health should be a paramount concern as only then will you have the stamina to cope with the needs of the little one. So have a good and healthy diet, catch up on your sleep whenever possible and don’t worry.
Your long term apprehensions regarding premature babies
- Growth and development: Most premature babies are tiny and tend to lose more weight than normal babies. However, this should not be a cause for concern, as with careful handling he will soon catch up with the normal rate. In fact, by the time he is two, he will be following the normal growth chart so keep your patience intact.
- Nutrition and appetite: You need to give your child a balanced and healthy diet, in addition to the supplements he may be prescribed with. Monitor your baby’s diet carefully without force-feeding the baby, as generally premature babies tend to have a poor appetite.
- Resistance to illnesses: His resistance to illness may be a little less but with careful handling you can build his immunities.
- Mental development: It has been found that mental development of premature babies is not any less than normal kids so don’t let this thought worry you unnecessarily.
The first two years of a premature baby can be tough but with careful handling, lots of love and care he will soon be like any other normal kid.