If your baby was delivered premature, you may be impatient to leave the hospital neonatal intensive care unit as much as you are delighted to take the baby home after a lengthy hospital stay (NICU). Travel and access to urgent healthcare may be hampered as a result of the epidemic. However, there is no need to be concerned because caring for premature newborns is similar to caring for full-term kids. Doctors will only release a preterm infant if they are confident that the kid is healthy enough to go. Dr. Sreenath Manikanti, Senior Consultant Neonatologist at Kauvery Hospital in Bengaluru, explains in detail how to care for a premature infant…
The following are the primary characteristics that doctors look for before releasing a newborn:
- Can the infant regulate its temperature in an open cot without the use of a radiant warmer or incubator?
- Is it possible for the infant to receive all of his or her feedings through breastfeeding or palladia without the use of a supplemental tube feed?
- Is it possible for the infant to acquire weight steadily?
Most preterm newborns satisfy these requirements 3-5 weeks before their due date. Here are a few things to keep in mind when caring for a preterm infant.
You must ensure that your kid is at a temperature that is both comfortable and safe. Adding layers of clothes or removing them as needed is the most efficient strategy to do this.
Try not to overburden the bed with blankets, since this might elevate the temperature to a level that the infant cannot manage. Purchase a digital thermometer and keep the baby’s axillary temperature between 36.5 and 37.4 degrees Celsius ( 97.7-99.4 F). The recommended room temperature for sleeping is 20-24 degrees Celsius.
You can help your baby sleep better by providing a comfortable atmosphere, such as a low temperature and dim lighting in a quiet room. Preterm babies are also more likely to wake up hungry at night than term newborns since the smaller the baby, the more frequently they need to nurse.
- The water should be warm rather than hot. Aim for a bathwater temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 C).
- Only use plain water to wash his or her hair.
- Do not use any liquid cleaners in the bath. In the first month, plain water is ideal for your baby’s skin.
- Bathe the infant with a sponge until he or she weighs 2.5 kg.
- Do not use any lotions or oils on your premature newborn until he or she is at least a month old.
Prevention Of SIDS
This is a phenomenon, often known as cot death, in which seemingly healthy newborns die while sleeping, generally within the first six months of life. Premature newborns are slightly more vulnerable than term babies. It is yet unknown what causes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS); however, we do know that the following preventative strategies, such –
- Never let your baby sleep on his stomach: This can be harmful to the body since it might create respiratory issues. It’s fine if he flips over on his own since his brain is developed enough to warn him about potential breathing problems. Back-sleeping allows a baby to obtain more fresh air and reduces his chances of being hot (overheating is a major cause of SIDS).
- Side-sleeping is also dangerous: studies suggest that placing a baby down on his side rather than his back doubles the risk of SIDS.
- Only a fitted sheet should be added to the bed: Before adding any cushions or blankets to your baby’s room, wait until he or she is one year old. Blankets, blankets, pillows, and plush animals might suffocate your baby’s respiration.
- Be cautious when sleeping together: Your infant might be smothered by a pillow or a loose blanket while sleeping in bed. If you or your spouse rolls upon them, his or her air supply may be cut off. Co-sleeping should be avoided until the infant is a bit older since there are too many hazards associated with sleeping together.
- Breastfeed him for as long as you can: Breastfed infants are more readily aroused from sleep than formula-fed babies, which may explain why breastfed babies are less likely to die from SIDS. If you’re nursing, don’t smoke or consume alcohol since it raises your chance of SIDS.
- Because preemies are more susceptible to infection, trips outside the house should be confined to the doctor’s clinic/hospital for a few weeks. Ensure that your infant obtains all of his or her immunizations on schedule. To minimise unnecessary hospital/clinic trips, use teleconsultation from your doctor whenever feasible.
- Avoid going to public areas with your premier. Limit the amount of visitors to your house, especially those who are ill. Before handling the newborn, all visitors should wear masks and wash their hands.
Kangaroo Care And Breastfeeding
Dress the infant merely in a diaper in a warm room at home, sit the baby on your chest, and move the baby’s head to one side to enjoy skin-to-skin contact. Kangaroo care should be done as much as possible and as regularly as feasible. Kangaroo care boosts parent-infant connection, stimulates breastfeeding, stabilises an infant’s heart and respiratory rate, improves oxygenation, controls body temperature, and promotes development in preterm newborns, according to research.
Prepare for an Emergency
NICU graduates had a greater re-hospitalization rate than the general newborn population. Now is the moment to prepare for an emergency, rather than waiting for one to occur. Find the nearest hospital emergency room and the shortest journey from your house. If you suspect your baby’s condition is critical, be prepared to contact an ambulance. Save the NICU number for future reference. Before being discharged, caregivers should obtain Basic Life Support (BLS) training.
Taking Care Of Yourself
For the first several months at home, parents devote a significant amount of time to caring for their premature child. It may be really draining at times. As a result, it is critical to look after oneself and not underestimate the stress of delivering earlier than intended.
Take steps to stay physically and mentally fit. Get assistance from family members and get plenty of rest.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or sad, don’t be afraid to seek expert treatment so that you may completely appreciate your newborn kid.