How to take care of a preterm baby
Taking care of a newborn baby is always a challenge, but if the new baby birth preterm, challenges may be bigger than expected.
Despite the fact that preterm babies tend to have longer hospital stays, and that they are discharged only when they grew enough and are relatively risk free; they are still small, fragile babies requiring special care at home; so being prepared to assume that task is a good idea.
First thing to do is to follow your doctor's advise properly. He/she is the one who better knows your baby's health status and will give tailored indications to face the daily routines with your preterm baby once at home.
However, a few general recommendations will help to be ready at home when your beautiful baby finally gets home.
1. Take your time to know your baby
Each baby is different from another, in fact what works for some of them, is useless for others, so take time to identify your baby's preferences about positions, temperature, feeding time and so on in order to adapt your schedule to his/her own natural rhythm.
2. Avoid expectantions
Especially if you have had other babies before. Each baby is different from another, so comparisons are not a good choice; instead, focus yourself on knowing your new baby and doing your best to meet her/his needs.
3. Be patient
Things can take longer than usual, especially regarding feeding on very low weighted babies; so take your time and be patient. At the beginning things are not easy, but with time and while your baby grows, everything will get easier. Remember, the hard times don't last forever.
4. Don't force your baby to eat
Preterm babies might not eat as much as a non-preterm baby; instead, they might need more feeding sessions a day, even when each one is smaller than usual. That's normal, especially during the first months, afterwards feeding behavior tend to get normalized.
5. Get ready to stimulate your baby
Most of brain development begins on the first weeks of live, so get ready to get as much as you can from your baby potential by stimulating him.
Songs, petting, massage, reading, colors and so on are good strategies, but remember not to overwhelm your baby. It's better to practice several, short stimulation session each day than exhaust your baby with long stimuli during hours.
6. Don't see your baby as one with special needs
Perhaps he/she is smaller than other babies, or weights a little bit less, but that doesn't mean nothing. With proper care and love your baby will grow up strong and healthy, so there are not special needs; everything is about a slower start but at the end everything will go well, so don't stigmatize your own baby as one with special needs.
7. Wash your hands as much as possible
During the first months of live, preterm babies have a little bit bigger risk for infections, so wash your hands as much as possible and keep your house clean; on the other hand avoid that people not related to the baby touch him/her and keep away sick persons such as those with flu.
Once your baby achieves certain age and weight, this risk will disappear and then you may relax, meanwhile, be extremely cautious with cleanness.
Finally, give your baby all the love you can, that's the best way to protect him/her and guarantee the best possible outcome; love is the best thing you may give to your little baby.