..where little means a lot

Are You A New Mom?
Get free samples of Baby formula, Diaper
Baby Magazines, and Coupons.

By Planning Family

Premature Baby Care

Babies who are born too early or too small at birth (weighing less than 2.5 kg or 5½ lbs) will need some form of special care to enable them to catch up. Other possible situations demanding special attention include health risks such as babies with severe respiratory issues, jaundice that requires an exchange transfusion and babies lacking in oxygen or had undergone fetal distress. The most likely form of treatment and attention will be provided through special care baby unit or SCBU and neonatal intensive care unit or NICU if the baby is very premature or ill (born at 24-25 weeks and weighing 450g can be helped to thrive in a NICU). Overall about 7% of babies are born premature.

The Categories

Preterm babies

Preterm babies are babies who are born before term and are not equipped to live in the outside world. Depending on how premature he is, he will need special care in the hospital premises. Newborns are said to be premature if they are born before 37 weeks of age. Chances for survival increases for a baby born after 24-25 weeks of gestation but they will require intensive care for some time; babies born before week 23 aren't mature enough to make it. While premature babies face difficulties initially, a good percentage grow up to be completely normal or with moderate problems.

Small-for-dates babies

Small-for-dates babies are babies who weigh less than expected for the age. Usually full-term, a small for date baby is small sized at birth and therefore needs to be handled with care.

Health issues

Health issues can become a problem with a premature baby born before 37 weeks that would not normally afflict a full term infant. One such situation is jaundice. Underdeveloped organs can affect breathing; create problems with body temperature and feeding. Baby will be more prone to infections and, lack in essential minerals such as calcium and iron.

Why the Special Care

Key areas that need close supervision are:

Temperature Control.
A premature or small-for-dates baby is more vulnerable to feeling cold since her body has too little or no body fat for insulation. The arrangement will be to place her in an incubator with warmed, humidified air or oxygen creating the effect of an artificial womb.

Feeding. A very premature baby will not be able to ingest milk so the substitute will be a special solution of sugar, salts and potassium. Once she is able to feed, she will either be fed with her mother's expressed breast milk or special infant formula. Thin soft tubes inserted through the nose will used for feeding.

Breathing. Before 27 weeks, a baby's lungs are not mature enough to allow the transfer of oxygen into her system. The nervous system is not matured enough and hence baby's breathing mechanism can be affected. She will need assistance to breathe with the help of a ventilator.

Premature Baby Care at a glance..

• Special care babies will be placed in an incubator which has special doors on the top; nurses will attend to the baby whenever necessary e.g. for feeding etc. The incubators are carefully controlled to provide the correct temperature, oxygen levels and humidity all in the bid to allow baby to develop and thrive well.

• A premature baby may need to be on a ventilator since his lungs are not fully matured. Ventilators help air into your baby's lungs.

• Scanners are used to help visualize the inside of your baby's skull. Any bleeding that may develop can be diagnosed as well as to keep tabs on future long term problems.

• Since infections have mainly responsible for a premature birth, antibiotics and IV fluids are routine for babies these little; these will be administered either through an IV or umbilical central line.

• Babies may be placed in a special bed with a radiant warmer to help maintain body temperatures

• Baby will probably be placed on a cardio-respiratory monitor with a pulse oximeter to measure the oxygen in his blood.

• Electrodes placed on the baby's chest will monitor his heartbeat. A stethoscope is used to record the baby's heart rate as well.

• He will have a feeding tube attached in his nose or mouth that goes down to his stomach if he is mature enough to feed; babies between weeks 32-34 won't be able to breastfeed or bottlefeed so will rely on the tube for his feeds. Breast milk can be expressed and stored in the SCBU until baby is capable to have it

• Most premature babies are discharged around the date they were originally due. For example, a baby born at 26 weeks will have a three month stay in the hospital.

• Generally the baby will need to be gaining weight, breathing well on his own and feeding to be able to check out from the SCBU. Following that his progress will be assessed regularly by the doctors.

Your Baby needs You

Time. Your baby needs you to spend as much time as you can with him, the same love and attention a full term baby is given.

Touch. Establish skin contact by touching and caressing your baby through the portholes of the incubator whenever you can. Touching and stroking your baby will help him to make good progress in his growth and development. She is already familiar with your voice and your touch will help further.

Breastmilk. If possible, express breast milk and have it stored in the SCBU. Research shows that colostrum and milk of a mother whose child is preterm contain more of certain nutrients than those found in mothers of full term babies. This makes up for the missing nutrients a preterm baby would have missed out which he should have received in the uterus.

Involvement. Get involved in taking care of your baby; learn from nurses on how to feed, wash and change baby. This will intensify bonding and prepare you in caring for him.

The final word

Having left the womb earlier, premature infants will start off at a different point. For example if she was born 2 months or 8 weeks before term, then at 6 months she will display social skills of a 4 month old. These differences become less obvious with time and by the time your child turns 2 years old, there will be little or no difference between your baby and one born at term.

Share this
Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
Home | About Us | Preconception | Pregnancy | Parenting |

Free Newsletters
| Contact Us | Feedback | Sitemap
All Rights Reserved. © 2022 Welcome Baby Home | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
Just had a baby? Click Here