Taking Care of a Premature Baby

January 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Baby Tips

Taking Care of a Premature Baby Premature babies are defined as those born between twenty four and thirty seven weeks of gestation. An average Indian baby weighs about 2.8 kgs when born at full term. According to the World Health Organization, any baby who weighs less than 2.5 kgs is termed as a “low birth weight” baby, irrespective of when the baby is born during a pregnancy.  In general babies, who weigh less than 2 kgs, need specialized neonatal care for the initial few weeks after birth, until they are much stronger and ready to go home.

The chances of survival for a baby born before twenty four weeks of pregnancy are narrow. Premature babies are very delicate and needs to be handled with lots of care and alertness. It is observed that generally the premature babies are vulnerable to external climatic changes too and due to low resistance are prone to illnesses quickly. That is the reason premature babies are kept away from visitors. These extra precautions will improve the existing health condition of the baby.

Premature babies are transferred to intensive care unit immediately after birth. They are placed in incubators as they require round the clock nursing support. The premature babies are tiny, fragile and very difficult to handle in the initial days. Only nursing staff and experienced people should administer the baby. The premature babies are fed intravenously and at times put on respirator to aid breathing in certain situations.

Close monitoring is required for key parameters such as blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and pulse. Premature babies are retained in the incubator till the time the consulting doctor confirms that the babies health is stable and can be taken home. Even after premature baby is discharged from the hospital, periodical checks has to be conducted to ensure the baby is progressing well and you do not come across surprises in ignorance.

Bringing a premature baby home after several weeks in the hospital is very exciting yet stressful as you need to keep monitoring round the clock. Relatives, close friends and neighbors will be anxious to see the baby. Control should be maintained over the visitors as baby is prone to viral infections with exposure. Prevent insect bite, provide mosquito net.

Premature babies develop for two to four months outside the womb. During this period , they are exposed to different types of stimuli such as light, noises, touch and pain. They are comfortable when wrapped in blanket and the room is kept warm. A quieter environment with dim lights is recommended such that the baby stays calm. Parents and caretakers need to take extra care to nurture the baby. Start breast feeding based on availability.If you are opting for formula milk then follow all precautions while preparing feed.

Crying in premature babies:

Crying is a common phenomena in babies and a way of communication with those around them. Some infants cry more than the other babies. Crying may indicate several reasons- baby is hungry, seek attention , need a diaper change, some sort of an irritation or displeasure with the environment.

Premature babies are more fussy and cry often. Babies continue to cry in spite of all basic needs addressed. If babies are kept in the Intensive neonatal unit they will take time to adjust to the new environment. Usually baby is separated from the new mom who is recovering after the delivery and probably in another ward of the hospital to support feeds for the baby.

Unusual crying in premature babies:

By the time the baby is 3 to 4 weeks, the parents and elders taking care of the baby will be able to identify the cause of the cry. In case you sense that the baby is crying for more than the usual time is not stopping to cry with all the efforts to soothe the baby you need to consult a pediatrician and take medical advice. Unusual behavior and crying pattern should be mentioned to the doctor which will aid in diagnosis.

Prior to taking medical advice rule out the possibility of the baby being hungry, Baby diaper is clean and dry, no signs or symptoms of pain in the ear, check for body temperature, redness on the body due to insect bite. Pacify and soothe the premature baby from crying by holding the baby close to the body and talking to the baby in soft tones. If the baby has a liking to music, distract the baby with light music or shift the babies attention with baby toys and favorite posters. Sing songs that the baby enjoys usually and try to put the baby to sleep. Baby may cry if it feels cold too. Wrap the baby with clothes that provide warmth if the external weather is cold, baby will feel comfortable in warm clothes.

Read: How to handle the New Born Baby

Monitoring baby’s progress

Round the clock monitoring has to happen. Therefore if you are hiring baby sitter for caring the baby, ensure the help is an experienced one. Create awareness and be alert. The mother will be also on medication post delivery. Share responsibilities and create a happy environment for the baby.

Closely watch out during seasonal transition and be able to interpret the symptoms. Premature babies are more fussy when compared to the full term babies born at the normal stage of pregnancy. The initial weeks are very challenging and gradually your baby will outgrow this phase in no time.

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Read:Valuable tips on how to develop your baby’s brain

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  1. Feeding a premature baby

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