A preterm baby or premature baby is a baby who is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Preterm babies are at higher risk for health problems than term babies.
If you have recently learned that your baby is going to be born prematurely, you may be feeling a range of emotions – from worry and fear to determination and hope. Premature birth can be a frightening experience, but with the right information and support, you can help your preterm baby thrive. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for new parents of premature babies.
What is a preterm baby?
A preterm baby or premature baby is a baby who is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Preterm babies are at higher risk for health problems than babies who are born full-term (at 39-41 weeks of pregnancy).
The number of premature babies in the United States has been on a steady decline for decades, but it is still important to be aware that 1 out 10 will develop health problems. Premature infants might not be completely developed at birth. They may require additional medical attention and stay in the hospital longer than other babies. Even if they were born very prematurely, today’s babies are more likely to survive than ever before owing to medical advancements.
What causes the baby to be born prematurely?
Many different factors can contribute to premature birth. Some of the most common include:
- Multiple births ( twins, triplets, etc.)
- Problems with the uterus or cervix
- Medical conditions in the mother, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or infections
- Smoking, drinking alcohol, or using drugs during pregnancy
What are the symptoms of a preterm baby?
The most common symptom of a preterm baby is being born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Other symptoms may include:
- Low birth weight (less than five pounds, eight ounces) usually weigh 2500 grams or less with a length is less than 44 cm.
- The head and the abdomen look larger, and skull bones are soft with a wide suture gap.
- The skin is thin, red, and glossy with hair, and the muscular tone is weak owing to a lack of fat.
A baby born before 37 completed weeks requires special care.
What are the risks associated with being born prematurely?
There are many risks associated with being born prematurely. Some of the most common include:
- Breathing problems
- Feeding difficulties
- Temperature instability
- Birth defects
What can I do to reduce the risk of my baby being born prematurely?
There are many things you can do to reduce the risk of your baby being born prematurely. Some of the most important include:
- Get early and regular prenatal care. This is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of having a premature baby.
- Do not smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs during pregnancy.
- Gain the appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy.
- Avoid exposure to toxins and harmful chemicals.
- Manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and thyroid disorders.
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your risk of having a premature baby.
Does my premature baby need special medical care?
Yes, premature babies often require special medical care. They may need to stay in the hospital’s NICU for some time after birth so that they can be monitored closely. They may also need to receive special care if they have any health problems that develop as a result of being born prematurely.
Neonatal intensive care unit:
A neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is a hospital unit that provides care for newborn babies who are sick or premature. Premature babies are kept here until their organs are mature enough to function without medical assistance.
Some babies require intensive care for weeks or months until they can breathe on their own, eat by mouth, and maintain their body temperature and weight.
When it’s time for your baby to go home from the hospital, he’ll probably be able to:
- Breastfeed or take a bottle
- Breathe on his own
- Sleep through the night
- Be alert and active during the day
- Gain weight steadily
- Weighs at least 4 pounds
- Keep warm on his own, without the help of an incubator (an incubator is a clear plastic bed that helps keep your baby warm)
What can I do to take care of my preterm baby?
There are some things you can do to take care of your preterm baby.
First, you need to understand that a preterm baby is different from a full-term baby. A preterm baby’s organs are not fully developed and they may not be able to eat or breathe on their own.
They will also need to stay in the hospital for a while so that the doctors and nurses can monitor their progress and make sure they are getting the care they need.
Here are some tips for taking care of your preterm baby:
- Be patient: A preterm baby may not be able to do everything a full-term baby can do. They will learn at their own pace.
- Bond with your baby: Spend time holding, touching, and talking to your baby. This will help you both feel connected.
- Breastfeeding: If you are able, breastfeed your baby. Breast milk is the best food for preterm babies, and it will help them grow and develop.
- Pump your milk: If you are not able to breastfeed, you can pump your milk and give it to your baby in a bottle.
- Take care of yourself: You need to take care of yourself so that you can be there for your baby. Make sure to get enough rest and eat healthy foods.
- Ask for help: Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, or your healthcare team. It takes a village to raise a preterm baby!
If you are the parent of a preterm baby, know that you are not alone. There are many resources and support groups available to help you through this journey. With a little patience and a lot of love, you will be able to care for your preterm baby and help them thrive.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare team. They are there to help you and your baby every step of the way.