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Premature Babies: Understanding, Caring, and Development

Your delivery date is around the corner! Up until now you have checked all the right boxes. You have eaten well during your pregnancy. Your spouse and you have even gotten your house renovated, to welcome your little one when they come home. Perhaps the only thing you haven’t factored in, is the thought that you might have a ‘Premature Baby’!

Even though the odds are stacked in your favour where it comes to having a full-term baby, you need to be aware of this pregnancy complication. In this blog post we will take a look at why Babies are born Premature. We will strive to answer any common concerns that you might have, like ‘Why Babies are Born Premature’, and ‘How to Care for Your Premature Baby at Home.’

But first, let us understand ‘What is a Premature Baby.’

Insights into Preterm Labour: Decoding the World of Premature Babies

Before we understand What a Premature Baby is, it’s pertinent to take a look at what a normal Pregnancy entails.

A pregnancy is considered to be ‘full-term’, when it lasts for around 40 weeks from the pregnant mother’s last menstrual period.

So, when a baby is born a tad earlier, like at around 37-38 weeks or even sooner than that, it is termed as a Premature Baby.

The following factors are essential in determining if the baby is premature.

  • The date of the last period the mother has had.
  • The maturity of the baby vis a vis both physiological and neurological aspects. This assessment is undertaken via ultrasound, while the baby is still in the mother’s uterus.
  • The examination of the baby post birth.

Note: If a baby is born before 25 -28 weeks of pregnancy, it is deemed as ‘extremely premature’.

Insights into Preterm Labour: Why Babies are born Premature

So, why are Babies born Premature?

There are several reasons why a baby might come into this world earlier than expected. Some of the common causes are as follows.

  • The mother has an underlying health issue, such as Diabetes.
  • The mother does things in her pregnancy that she was strictly advised not to. Like, drinking and smoking.
  • Stress. We all have stress in our lives, but if Mama has too much of it, it’s not good for Baby!

Premature Babies: How they Develop

Luckily, most preterm babies will go on to develop just like every other normal child of their age. In case they do have any development issues, they will generally be limited to mild disabilities. Needless to say, these disabilities will not come in their way of living a happy life.

That being said, there are some instances where the preterm baby might grow up to have severe disabilities, like the following.

  • Autism
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Delayed development in Speech
  • A difficulty with their Gross Motor Skills

Premature Babies: How to take care of your Premature Baby at Home

Taking care of your premature baby will be almost like taking care of your baby, were they born full-term! That being said, you want to keep the following considerations in mind.

  • Checking your Baby’s temperature
  • The thing is, a premature baby is not as able to control their body temperature, as a baby that’s full term.

    To do: You have to ensure you monitor their temperature at home with a Digital Thermometer.

    Note: The temperature of your baby’s body should be in the range of 36.6 degrees C to 37.2 degrees C.

    Tip: Dressing your baby in layers, using things like blankets and even a sleeping bag, is the best possible way to safely maintain baby’s temperature.

  • Feeding
  • When looking at how to take care of your premature baby, ‘feeding’ is perhaps one of the first considerations that comes to your mind, and rightly so.

    To do: The following are things you need to bear in mind, when feeding your preterm baby.

    • Of course mother’s milk is the best, but you might be advised to supplement this natural method of feeding, with things like ‘expressed breast milk with fortifiers.’
    • Your preterm baby will need at least 8-10 feeds a day. What’s more, the interval between feeds should not exceed more than 4 hours.
  • Getting them to Sleep Well
  • We all need a good night’s sleep, and so do our babies. Especially so, those precious preterm babies!

    To do: You want to ensure that your baby’s mattress is firm, and that there are no pillows in their crib. This will ensure that their back is amply supported, and in turn they get better sleep.

    Note: You want to ensure that your baby is always sleeping on their ‘back’, not ‘face down’!

Premature Babies: Scheduling Follow-Up Visits

While you might be doing everything in your capacity to ensure your preterm baby is being taken care of at home, you don’t want to miss those follow-up doctor visits!

  • The very first visit is generally within 2-4 days of your baby being discharged from hospital.
  • Make a note of all the pertinent tests that are required. These are all the routine tests, like Vision and Blood tests. Make sure you get information pertaining to where to get them.
  • See if any Medical Specialists might be required. If so, your baby’s doctor will be able to get you their contact information, and perhaps even a referral.

Premature Babies: Recording your Baby’s Growth

Just because they are born premature, doesn’t mean they cannot catch up with the development of a full-term baby over time!

To do: Of course you’re going to be visiting your baby’s doctor regularly. You want to ensure you take that ‘growing chart’ from the pediatrician’s office, the next time you visit. This will help you monitor your baby’s growth in real time, so that you can ably pinpoint any issues that can be nipped in the bud, should they appear to arise.

For more such interesting blogs, visit EuroKids!

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