Tuesday, June 13, 2017
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every 10 babies born is preterm. A “preterm birth,” often called premature, is a baby born prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy. Additionally, almost 60 percent of twins, triplets, and other multiple deliveries are born preterm. Premature babies can have a variety of health issues that include problems with breathing, feeding, vision, hearing, and other developmental delays. Some can even have cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder caused by a defect that occurs when the child’s brain is under development. Often these special babies require focused care when they arrive home to ensure they thrive as they grow.
A premature baby will be deemed safe to leave the hospital and can head home once she can breathe on her own, maintain body temperature, feed by breast or bottle, and is steadily gaining weight. While much of a premature baby’s care at home will be the same as a full-term baby, additional specialized care may be needed and will depend greatly upon the specific situation. A caregiver who specializes in premature baby care can assist in preterm infant care at home to help both the baby and parents thrive. An in-home caregiver can also help parents understand what type of care is needed for the long-term health success of their baby. This way, as their baby grows and the care provided by a caregiver ends, they are completely prepared for the transition.
While parents of premature infants can feel isolated in their situation, there are a variety of resources available to help them. Education is an important part of premature baby care from both the healthcare provider at home as well as outside resources. The more parents know about what a preterm birth means and how to care for their baby, the better prepared they will be to help their infant continue to develop and grow after their in-home assistance ends.
Graham’s Foundation: Founded in 2009 by Jennifer and Nick Hall, Graham’s Foundation provides support, advocacy, and research to improve outcomes for premature babies and their families. They offer a variety of different packages to families of premature babies to help them during their care in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and their transition to care at home.
HealthyChildren.org: This parenting website is backed by 66,000 pediatricians committed to the fulfillment of the best possible physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults until age 21. They offer a variety of information about proper healthcare for premature babies as well as tips on how to help the baby grow and stay healthy.
Pebbles of Hope: This organization works to give premature babies born in underserved areas an increased chance at survival by preventing the death and disability of preterm babies around the world. They offer a variety of digital training programs for parents through a mentoring program on a variety of topics, such as breastfeeding, nutrition, and safe sleeping practices. Ultimately, these babies can grow to live a healthy life and thrive in their community.
While there are a variety of reasons for preterm births, what is most important to remember is that parents do not need to go at it alone when caring for a premature baby. Having specialized home care for a premature baby can help the baby thrive and help parents understand how to provide the best care possible. Parents can also reach out to one of the many different organizations for support and educational resources so they can learn different ways to care for their premature baby as well as avoid feeling isolated.