A few basics you need to know before you take your preemie home.
A baby born before 37 weeks of gestation is a premature baby. Right from the time of discharge to the time when your baby is home, we list a few things you need to be cautious about.
Have a meeting with the doctor to review the necessary medical care to be given to your baby before the day of discharge. This debriefing session should answer questions such as 'how much time it will take for the baby to develop a strong immune system', 'what are the common diseases to be wary of', etc.
Tip: Keep a diary handy and make a note of questions you may have for the doctor, this will ensure you have covered all bases.
CPR and specialised training:
Your baby is as normal as any other baby, but just needs a little extra attention from you. Try to take some time out with your partner to undergo a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course, so that you are well prepared in case of an emergency. If possible, make the family members and caretakers take the course as well.
Oxygen tank and apnea monitor:
In case there is any special equipment to be used, like an apnea monitor or an oxygen tank, get proper training so that you are able to use these with ease.
An apnea monitor is a piece of home medical equipment that records a baby's heart rate and breathing pattern, and raises an alarm when the baby's heart rate slows down (bradycardia) or if he/she stops breathing for a period of time (apnea).
For the first few weeks, any contact with the outside world should be limited to a visit to the doctor. The doctor's clinic may have children with infections, so try to make an appointment early in the day when it's not too crowded, or request for a separate waiting room. Make sure there aren't many visitors in the house or around the baby.
People who are ill and smokers should not be anywhere close to your child. Take precautions such as washing your hands before touching the baby, sterilising their bottles, toys, etc. Breastfeeding is best for a preemie and should be done eight to ten times a day, each within a gap of four hours.
Having skin-to-skin contact with your baby is known as the kangaroo care. You can learn how to do this from the nursing staff. Place your baby on your chest with her ear against your heart. Research indicates that this method increases the parent-child bonding and can improve a premature baby's health as well.