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Premature Babies: The Basics

Undoubtedly you’ve seen the photos on the internet of premature babies, so tiny they fit into the palm of their father’s hand, their own little hands no bigger than a thumbnail. For reasons not completely understood, premature births are on the rise. Read on to learn about preemies and how to get the best care.

What Is A Preemie? The simplest definition of a ‘preemie’ is a baby born before 37 weeks gestation. Normal gestation period is 37-40 weeks.

What Causes Premature Labor/Pre-Term Birth? Despite extensive research, specialists are often unable to determine the cause of pre-term labor. While many of the risk factors and potential causes have been determined, there is still a lot of mystery surrounding pre-term labor. The March of Dimes has compiled an excellent article on premature babies and pre-term labor, including information on prevention, risk factors, and potential complications. Click HERE to read.

What Are The Special Concerns? As if bringing home a new baby weren’t stressful enough, special circumstances and complications only add to the fear that new moms feel as they try to care for their babies and care for themselves.

For the mom of a preemie, the newborn phase starts out differently from that of a full term baby. Her little one may have spent time in the NICU or required special attention and monitoring. And depending on how early the baby arrived there may have been additional concerns about infection, underdeveloped organs, and other premature birth complications like apnea.

Getting The Help You Need When Caring For Your Preemie.The good news is that many of the complications that accompany pre-term birth can be prevented, or at least mitigated. Your doctors and nurses are going to equip you with the best information available in order to care for your pre-term baby. But who is caring for you? Who is by your side as you are adjusting to this new schedule and learning the special care instructions?

At Welcome Baby Care, we know that bringing home a new baby is a complete swirl of exciting and stressful. Mothers who’ve had a Welcome Baby Care Professional Postpartum Doula have seen firsthand how a little extra help leads to flourishing. That extra set of hands is even more vital in the case of a preemie. Here’s how a doula helps moms and dads with their preemies:

  • Though baby may not require medical care after being discharged, the family and infant will need continued supportive care. This is the doula’s moment to shine.
  • Welcome Baby Care doulas promote and educate you about skin-to-skin contact, or kangaroo care. This promotes and encourages growth and development in preemies. It also helps with breastfeeding, and parent-infant bonding.
  • Some preemies are sent home on apnea monitors. We have staff that are trained to use this equipment, and help the family to feel comfortable and at ease when transitioning to the home environment.
  • Preemies are easily over-stimulated. This can lead to exacerbations of medical conditions, and also inhibit feeding and growing capabilities—which is essential for preemies. A postpartum doula helps to provide a calm, relaxing environment for the family, to avoid over-stimulation of the infant.
  • Says one Welcome Baby Care Doula (and specialist in preemie care): “It can be so stressful for the family and the mom during the first days/weeks/months of life after returning home with a preemie, they are often so worried and concerned about the baby that they forget to take care of themselves. We look at the whole family, and make sure that mom AND baby are well taken care of, fed, and rested.”
For more information on how Welcome Baby Care Professional Postpartum Doulas help parents care for babies with special health concerns, click HERE.

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