Bringing a premature infant home from the hospital can be both exciting
and daunting. These tips can help you prepare for the exhilarating and
exhausting experience of parenting your preterm baby.
Give Extra Loving Care
Parents of preterm infants will tell you that these early babies just seem
to need more—more time to develop, more protection and more tender
loving care. Spend as much time as you can holding and cuddling your baby, as
skin-to-skin contact has been shown to improve premature babies’ wellbeing.
Feeding your preterm newborn also might require extra care. Preterm babies
can have difficulty breastfeeding or require specialized formulas. Work
with hospital staff, your pediatrician and a lactation consultant if needed
to make sure you have the right feeding plan and that your baby is showing
signs of adequate nourishment.
If possible, limit visits and outings that could expose your baby to germs.
Premature immune systems need extra time to “catch up” to
their full-term peers.
Ask for Help
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed at times. Don’t be afraid to
ask for help, and be specific. Do you need a family member to help do
laundry or an experienced parent to provide advice? Asking for support
can be hard, but it can help you provide the best care for your premature baby.
Take Care of You
While caring for a premature newborn will likely have you “on call”
24x7 at first, self-care is important too. Caregivers need to sustain
their own energy and wellbeing. Eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated
and getting even just a little exercise can help.
And then, there’s sleep. The idea of getting enough sleep in a house
with a newborn might seem laughable, but every little bit helps. Try to
find time to nap when the baby sleeps, or trade off with another caregiver
so that you can rest or just take a break.
In time, your newborn and household will settle into a manageable routine
and life will adjust to the “new normal.” In the meantime,
despite the added demands of prematurity, enjoy your tiny, precious new
addition during the early, fleeting newborn days and weeks.
The team at Saint Francis Healthcare offers comprehensive care to help
you prepare and care for your new baby. Learn more
about what to expect when visiting Saint Francis Healthcare Maternity Services.