May 22, 2023

Premature babies: What you need to know

Jane Magnani
Jane Magnani
Premature babies: What you need to know

What does "premature" mean?

A premature baby is one born before 37 weeks of gestation. Every year, 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the United Kingdom, and the majority of these deliveries are unplanned and have no obvious explanation. The majority of these babies will require immediate neonatal care following birth.

We understand that having a premature baby can be incredibly stressful, especially if you were not expecting it.

Aside from the added stress of a premature birth, babies born prematurely frequently require admission to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

It can be difficult for parents to go through a difficult birth and then not be rewarded with a cuddle with their newborn, and we can understand that bonding with your baby can be difficult in this circumstance.

We have put together a few guidelines, suggestions, and advice to help you become more involved in your baby's care and avoid missing out on valuable moments together... 

  • Touching your infant can be therapeutic; they may find the soft pressure of your hands resting on their body, head, or cupping their feet pleasant.

  • Keep an eye on your baby so you can learn to recognise signals of how they are feeling.

  • Sing, speak, or read to your baby. If your baby is in an incubator, ask that one of the portholes be opened so that they may hear you more clearly.

  • Feed your baby - Even if your baby is tube fed, you should be able to participate in feeding from an early age.

As these are moments for you to get to know each other...

  • Ask for assistance with daily care, such as cleaning your baby's mouth and changing their nappies. Each unit's policies vary but inquire early on if you can engage in events like this.

  • Take part in your baby's first bath because it can be a very special experience. Request that the nurses plan your first bath with you so that you may do it with their help.

  • Holding your newborn close to your chest is an example of skin-to-skin contact. It has several benefits for babies and is a unique pastime in which both parents can engage.

Ask your doctor or nurse to explain anything you don't understand. There is no such thing as a silly question, especially when it involves your child.

Newborn yawning swaddled in arms

Newborn yawning swaddled in arms

Coping with a premature birth

If your newborn was born prematurely and is now in the hospital, this may be a very stressful time for you and it could have an impact on your emotional and physical well-being.

It's natural to be concerned if your newborn needs extra care. It may be beneficial to discuss any fears or concerns with the hospital staff.

Eating a nutritious, balanced diet is essential for optimal health, especially if you're breastfeeding.

A lack of sleep can leave you exhausted and angry, making it difficult to concentrate or make decisions. Getting extra sleep may not be an option. However, finding ways to unwind and relax will improve your mood, which may lead to better sleep. How about giving these a try?

  • Take a warm bath.

  • Practise relaxation techniques such as yoga.

  • Listen to peaceful music, or read a book.

  • Avoid surfing through your phone for an hour or two before bed

  • Take some time for yourself, whether your baby is in the hospital or at home. This could be going out for coffee, resting with a magazine, shopping, or calling a friend. Don't feel bad about doing anything that isn't related to your baby.

  • Whatever you are feeling, merely recognising and naming those feelings may help. Discussing them with your partner, a family member, or a close friend may be beneficial.


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