Identification of premature baby
As per the World Health Organization (WHO), a preterm baby is defined as a baby who is born alive before thirty-seven weeks of pregnancy are completed. Preterm babies can be classified as
- Extremely preterm: Less than twenty-eight weeks
- Very preterm: twenty-eight to under thirty-two weeks
- Late and moderate preterm: thirty-two to under thirty-seven weeks
Preterm baby can be identified by calculating gestational age. It can be calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period, for example, if the last menstrual period was on third April 2017 and the delivery happens in nineteenth November 2017, calculate the number of days of pregnancy, in this case, it is 231 days or 33 weeks which falls under the category of “late and moderate preterm”.
Premature Baby: Causes and Caring
Some of the causes of premature birth are given below:
When more than one fetus lies in the womb it is known as multiple pregnancies. In case of twin or triple pregnancy, there rises a chance of overstretching of the womb and this with time increases the risk of premature labor.
Generally, it has been recognized that mothers under twenty and above thirty-five years old are slightly prone to the risk of preterm delivery.
Females who have undergone miscarriage before, generally develop stress regarding their medical history. Whereas many females develop stress due to their workload and personal problems. Hence, it is advisable to avoid stress in order to avoid preterm labor.
In some women, the cervix is very weak, the opening to the womb will shorten and will open too soon which is followed by spontaneous labor. In this case, the doctor will have to initiate premature delivery.
Babies born before completing 37 weeks in the womb are premature babies. Their organs are not fully developed and they don’t have a strong immune system to fight infections and hence, need more care and attention than babies born full term. A premature baby is under complete care of the doctor and experts when in the hospital but the biggest challenge arises when the baby comes home from the hospital. Here are some tips on how to take care of your premature baby.
Listen only to your pediatrician
Parents should strictly follow what their doctor tells them and avoid doing anything that any good-willing relative might suggest. It is important to remember that the doctor knows best.
Ensure the baby gets enough nutrition
Breast milk is the best nutrition any baby can get, and it holds true even in the case of preemies. If your baby does not latch to your breasts, express the milk and try to give it to the baby with the help of other tools. Also, express the milk and store it for the baby if you have to work and can’t be present with the baby for a long time. Do not give your baby anything else like cow’s or buffalo’s milk and don’t even think about feeding formula milk.
Preventing infections is one of the most important aspects of a premature baby’s care. Immunity is built in the last three months of pregnancy and since the babies don’t complete their term, their immunity is severely complicated. It is a must that you avoid visitors after the baby comes home.
Keep the baby warm
Babies feel safe and secure when they are in close contact with the mother. Mothers should use the kangaroo care approach that involves placing the baby in between the breasts. This way the child can hear the mother’s heartbeat, and it also keeps the baby warm and makes him feel secure which helps their growth. Kangaroo care is not just limited to the mother, it can be given by a male member of the family too.
Don’t get depressed
If you are starting to get depressed, then get some help for that, because the depressed feeling in the parents translates to their child. And children suffer from a lot of adverse outcomes when they are parented by parents who are depressed or who are really anxious. So take a care of your emotional-self first.
It is really important to realize that there are chances that you will have a child, even if they are born prematurely, who will be a little behind to developmentally until they are two years of age. After that they are going to catch up and will do really well. What you don’t want to do is start seeing your child as they are so vulnerable and fragile. Overprotecting your child can have some long-term negative outcomes.
Talk to your doctor
As a parent you must talk to your pediatrician provider about whatever your concerns are, because your pediatric nurse practitioner is there to listen to your concerns, to respond to them and to help you parent your child in a way that will lead to the best outcomes.
Give extra loving care
Preterm infants just seem to need more, more time to develop, more protection and more tender loving care. Spend as much time as you can holding and cuddling your baby, as skin-to-skin contact has been shown to improve premature babies’ wellbeing.
Limit your outings
If possible, limit visits and outings that could expose your baby to germs. Premature immune systems need extra time to “catch up” to their full-term peers.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and be specific. Do you need a family member to help do laundry or an experienced parent to provide advice? Asking for support can be hard, but it can help you provide the best care for your premature baby.
Take care of you
While caring for a premature newborn will likely have you “on call” 24×7, but self-care is important too. Caregivers need to sustain their own energy and wellbeing. Eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and even just a little exercise can help.
Things to remember
Preemies are more prone to certain medical conditions than full-termers, so doctor visits are essential. The experts will monitor factors (a biggie: your premature baby’s weight) to check that your premature baby’s development is on track. Also, don’t worry, it’s natural to have a premature baby.