Preterm or premature Baby
Babies born before the thirty seventh weeks of pregnancy are called preterm or premature babies. They may or may not be fully developed depending on how early they have been born. They may be born naturally through labor or the doctors may cause their early birth as the fetus may not be developing properly in the womb and may require immediate care to survive.
They are usually smaller than usual babies and weigh five pounds or less as against the full grown who weigh six or more pounds. These babies have big head for their body. Their skin will be thin as they have very little flesh and their blood vessels may be visible too. Their features will not be round and may be sharper than the normal ones as they don’t have the white, cheesy vernix to protect them. Their cry would be different and in low decibel as the organs would not get enough oxygen due underdeveloped respiratory system.
- To give the babies comfort of the mother’s womb, they would be put in an incubator soon after birth. This is done if the baby is born four to six weeks early and/or requires special help to grow. The length of stay in the incubator may wary from few hours to a few days depending on the need of the child. Some of them may need little oxygen to breathe and others may need help for development. It all depends on how early they have been born. The younger babies may have to stay in the incubator longer than the older ones.
- Incubator would keep them warm and protect them from diseases. The doctors would monitor their movements round the clock. The incubator records the breathing, provides extra warmth, isolation, controlled humidity etc. If there is any discrepancy then it the rings alarms automatically. The babies will be feed in this incubator only as they would not have the ability to suck or swallow. They would be fed through a tube attached to the nose that is passed on to their throat.
- Premature baby feeding is little complicated than normal child. The mother may not be allowed to breast feed the child. Instead, they would be asked to express the milk and give to the hospital where they would feed the child through the tube in the incubator or through dropper. At times the mothers may have to help other babies in the ward with their milk. Some hospitals have milk bank as well for the sick and premature babies.
- Kangaroo care for premature babies is very effective for the survival. In this technique, the newborn baby is kept in skin to skin contact with mother after birth.
Preterm baby care and development
It’s natural of every parent to want to pick up their newborn baby in their hands and cuddle them and kiss them. It’s disappointing to see their little ones in the glass box. But the parents must understand and accept that the doctors are doing it in the best interest of the child. Talking to the doctors would help to understand exact status of the child. Depending on the child’s health, the doctors even allow the parents to change nappy or touch them.
Parents can visit the child as often as they are permitted. The child can feel the warmth and parental affection inside the incubator if the parents are allowed to touch or feel it. Even talking a lot to them helps to create the bonding. Once the baby is home, the parents have to handle the child as per the doctor’s guidelines.