Every year around 15 million babies are born premature worldwide. November 17 is observed as World Prematurity Day to raise awareness about premature babies. The theme for 2022 is” A parent’s embrace: A powerful therapy.”
For the unversed, any baby who is born less than 37 weeks of completed pregnancy is a premature neonate. Extreme preterm babies are those born before 28 weeks of pregnancy and the challenges they face for survival are humongous.
“The care required for these premature babies is very different when compared to a full term baby’s care. These tiny babies require prolonged NICU stay and they need extra special care and attention at home even after discharge from hospital,” says Dr. Sudha B, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad.
Dr Sudha shares some tips to take care of your premature baby at home:
The Right Temperature: Always keep your baby warm with socks, mittens. Maintaining adequate room temperature is also equally important. Ideal room temperature should be around 27* C.
Don’t bathe your baby, till baby attains a weight of 2.5 kg. Sponging with lukewarm water is sufficient to clean the baby. Kangaroo mother care is a method of holding your baby to chest to allow skin to skin contact between you and your baby. Kangaroo care helps in keeping the baby warm and also helps in weight gain of your preemie.
Feeding: These premature babies sometimes may have problems in latching and unable to take direct breast feeding from mother, in such cases mothers milk can be given with help of paladai. Try to give at least 8 feeds per day. Avoid more than 3 hours gap between the feeds. Also, use the milk fortifiers and multivitamin drops as your neonatologist would prescribe.
Sleep is important: Your preemie baby needs a lot of sleep. They spend most of their time sleeping. Make sure that the baby is lying on a firm mattress with no pillows and in supine position.
Protect Your Baby From Infections: Premature babies have very low immunity hence they are prone to get more infections. Do practice hand hygiene methods like regular hand wash and applying sanitizer while handling the baby. Limit your visitors and avoid gatherings. Anyone at home suffering from any illness should try and stay away from these little babies.
Developmentally Supportive Care: Practices like handling the baby gently, decreasing noise levels, avoiding bright lights, dimming the lights during nights will help in your baby’s appropriate development.
Regualar Follow Up: Keep in touch with your baby’s pediatrician. Your doctor will assess growth of your baby and will also perform additional checkups like hearing screening, newborn screening, Retinopathy of prematurity checkup, vision assessment and neuro developmental assessment as and when required. Never miss your vaccination visits.
Let’s embrace these tiny miracles and make them strong.