What You Need to Know About Preemies

The day your little bundle arrives can be the happiest day of your life. But sometimes, that day comes a little sooner than expected, and your little one arrives a little earlier than you originally planned. When they arrive a day or two early, it can seem inconsequential, but when they arrive several weeks early, it can be a different story.

Giving birth to a premature infant can bring a lot of unknown and scary territory, but with modern medicine and technology, your little bundle of joy has favorable chances at overcoming difficulties. Premature babies can come with some developmental delays and potential health issues, but your doctor and NICU team will be with you every step of the way. And to make it even easier, here are the top things you need to know about being the parent of a brand new preemie.

Questions to Ask Your Doctors

The easy answer to this is everything! If you have a question, never be afraid to ask it — the more open communication you have with your doctor and NICU team, the better. But here are a few common ones you should definitely be asking:

What does that even mean? In any hospital setting, the lingo can seem overwhelming, but especially when it’s in regards to your newborn. Any time a phrase or word is used that you don’t understand, speak up. Your healthcare providers will be happy to answer your questions and handle any concerns you have.

Can I hold him/her? Please, make sure to ask this question. If your little one is too tiny, you might be unable to for a period of time. But in cases when it is safe to do so, doctors welcome this bonding. Skin-on-skin time is imperative to baby’s health, and during this time is no exception. Your team will help do everything they can to make sure you’re able to hold your sweet one as often as possible.

Can I help? Get involved with baby’s care. This will make you feel a little more at ease when it comes time to take your little one home. Your NICU team will be able to teach you important strategies for your baby’s care.

How is my baby doing? Anytime you need reassurance or answers, don’t hesitate to ask this. Keeping track of your little one’s progress is your job, and it will help your understanding that is important for transitioning to home. 

Going Home!

Finding out you’re going home with your baby can be music to your ears. But it can also be scary — when you’ve had an entire team dedicated to caring for you and your little one, taking the baby home to be alone with you and your partner can seem like a lot. But don’t worry, you’ve got this. Here are a few things you can do before and after you get home to better prepare yourself:

Make sure everything is ready. Make sure that nursery (or just the crib), car seat and other necessities are assembled and ready to greet your new little one. You can wash the clothes in baby-safe detergent, sterilize all the bottles and pumping materials, etc., to make sure that your home is as prepared as possible for the arrival.

Have a plan in place with your doctor. Make sure you have a pediatrician ready for any questions, concerns, worries, etc., that you may have. Having this lined up before you go home will set your mind at ease before anything even happens.

Call your support system. Make sure you have a team of people you love to gather around you in case you need help. Even having dinner delivered to your house one or two nights that first week can do wonders for a mama with a brand new baby.

Have minimal visitors. On the flip side, don’t feel like you need to have people over all the time. It can be overwhelming for a new mom, so don’t feel any hesitation in letting people know that you just need to be alone with your new family for a while.

Trust those mom instincts. If something feels off, listen to your intuition. Your doctor is used to taking calls from new moms regarding their baby’s health — especially from moms of NICU babies. You’ll breathe much easier if you call for answers when you need to.

Things to Remember:

Now that you have everything in place and are as ready as can be, there are a few things to keep in mind as you grow with baby.

Small doesn’t mean impossibly fragile. Don’t be scared to touch and snuggle that little one. Especially if the baby is well enough to go home, the baby is well enough to be handled.

Stay inside. When you bring a preemie home, the baby is especially vulnerable to outside sickness and germs — make sure you keep baby home for those first few weeks.

Ignore those timelines. Remember, baby is a few weeks behind. Development will reflect those additional weeks, even though the ages won’t. If you’re worried your little one is delayed, consult your healthcare provider. Otherwise, ignore everyone else’s timeline — you know your little one best.

Being home with baby is such a wonderful time — make sure you’re enjoying every second of those early and unexpected weeks.

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