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When a baby is born premature it can cause a lot of stress on not only the parents, but the child as well. A preterm child is born before the 37-week mark of the pregnancy. Premature babies happen in around 11-13% of pregnancies across the United States and those rates double in twins.
Once discharged, a premature baby will need more care than a full-term newborn. To help understand, Tina Edwardson, Clinical Nurse Manager, Infant Special Care Unit at NorthShore, shares tips for preemie parents:
The Car Ride Home. The first important item to take care of is making sure the baby will have a proper car seat for the ride home. Before taking your baby home, check with a doctor to make sure the baby is allowed to ride in the car seat – some respiratory issues may require a special restraint seat. Having the proper car seat with a three-point or five-point harness system is important; most car seats have additional padding or head support for premature babies provided by the manufacturer of the car seat.
Preparing the House. Having a premature baby may require a few additional items than with a full term baby. Keeping the basics such as bottles, diapers and clothing that fits will be a big help in making your baby feel at home. A premature baby may need a few unique items like a bulb or medication syringe to administer medicine prescribed by the doctor.
Limit Visits. Another important thing to do once the newborn is home is to limit visits especially for babies born in the fall or winter months because they are at a higher risk to catch infections. Limiting the baby’s visits to places such as the doctor’s office will help the child stay away from illness. If your baby does receive visits, make sure the visitors understand the importance of handwashing.
Picking a Doctor or Specialist. Looking for a pediatrician that has dealt with premature babies is a very important step in proper care. If the infant needs things such as physical or speech therapy finding the right professional will go a long way in helping the baby.
If you have any additional questions about preemie care, talk with your pediatrician.