World Prematurity Day: How to take care of a premature baby at home
World Prematurity Day is observed on November 17 annually to raise awareness about preterm birth. Here are tips to take care of a premature baby at home by an expert.
World Prematurity Day: Taking care of a premature baby is not that simple and the little one needs special care at every step. If your baby arrives three weeks before the due date or at 37 weeks of pregnancy, he or she is called premature baby.
When a child is delivered before the due date, the organs which are present inside the baby are not fully developed and it is important to take specialized care of the baby.
World Prematurity Day is observed on November 17 annually to raise awareness about preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide. Approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year.
Common problems faced by premature babies
Premature babies may find it troublesome to breath as their lungs are not properly developed.
"The most common problem with the extremely premature babies is respiratory distress, this is because the lungs of the babies are not mature enough and there is a lack of substance in the lungs called surfactant in the babies which helps in normal functioning of lungs. This may put them at risk of severe respiratory distress and respiratory failure," Dr Virender Verma, a Neonatologist, Wockhardt Hospital Mira Road.
Steps must be taken to quickly admit the baby to NICU (newborn intensive care unit)
"Fortunately, if the baby is transported to NICU within first few hours of life (ideally within 2 hours), the commercially surfactant can be instilled into lungs," he adds.
Feeding tips for premature and low birth weight babies
For the babies who are extremely premature and have low birth weight, tube feeding is preferred as they cannot swallow milk properly.
"A tube is passed from nose (or mouth) to stomach and used as a conduit for feeding. This tube feeding method help the care provider as the exact composition and quantity of feed is known to the treating doctor. This method also helps in understanding whether the baby is digesting the milk or not. It also helps the baby quicky gain weight," says Dr Verma.
When the little one is finally ready to move from hospital to the more comforting environment of home, certain things need to be taken care of.
Train to take care of your premature baby
Firstly, the hospital will allow the premature baby to go home only when the baby's health is stable. There are many instructions given by the doctor that need to be followed religiously at home. The motivation of the parents is very important and they must be adequately trained before the baby is sent home, says Dr Verma.
Breastfeeding your premature baby, the right way
Breastfeeding is essential for the baby to keep away allergies, infections, and various diseases.
"Breast milk is nutritious and aids in the growth and development of your premature baby. It can be easily digested when compared to formula milk. You can take the help of a lactation expert to know more about breastfeeding. Understand the cues given by the baby and do not overfeed him or her. Join a support group of moms to overcome the challenges of breastfeeding," says the expert.
Maintain skin-to-skin contact with your premature baby
Practice Kangaroo care by dressing your infant in a nappy and letting him or her rest on your chest. It reduces the pain or the stress your child goes through. "It also promotes healthy weight gain, helps regulate the baby’s heart rate and breathing. This way, you will be able to strengthen the bond with your baby.," says Dr Verma.
Check your baby's temperature
Ensure that the baby sleeps properly. See to it that the proper temperature is maintained in the room. Check your baby’s temperature too from time to time to avoid any unwanted problems.
Limit visitors at home
Go for regular follow-ups, and make sure you do not allow visitors at home. This is so because the baby is at a higher risk of catching infections, allergies, and diseases. Keep the environment and house clean. Wash your hands before and after touching the baby.
Identify early danger signs and take quick decision to visit hospital without delay
Go for regular follow-ups
Don’t ignore the regular follow-ups. Immunisation, growth monitoring and neurological assessment at frequently intervals is essential in all newborns but these become vital in premature babies, says Dr Verma.