I am not a pediatrecian. I am a mother of three pre-term babies who are 8, 6 and 4 now. That’s my quualification and my experience is my reference journal.
Having a pre-term baby is like rearing a volcano because we have no idea what to expect. We will be swarmed with advices keeping in reference of the term babies. First point is that we should never compare a pre-term baby with a term baby. In fact a premie will be different from another premie, let alone term kids. So, how can we take care of a premie and what all we should expect? Let’s see
Slow Weight gain
We should understand that your baby did not grow in your uterus at a time he/she is equiped to gain the maximum weight. Hence we cannot expect them to gain weight in an environment completely alien to them till then. Kids will lose weight immediately after birth. A child born with 1.5KG could be 1.2 or 1.3 after a week. That is quite natural. Many hospitals keep the child in a warmer till gaining about 2.5 KG. But the hospital where I had my delivery would give the child once it is 2 KG. My third one was handed over when he has 1.9 KG. So what to expect?
Don’t compare your child’s weight with a term babie’s weight. Kids should ideally be double the birth weight at 6 months. Most kids gain double the weight within three months also. But premies are often slow gianers. So we can give them 6 months time. So, a child born with 1.5 KG birth weight shall be 3 KG at 6 months, which is the weight of a new born term baby. Does that matter? A big fat NO
Premies reach their milestones late. But again it differs from child to child. My daughter rolled on her stomach when she was 4 months old and started walking when she was one but my two boys waited till 6 months and 8 months to roll and started walking at one and half years and two years respectively. If your child has not rolled on his/ her stomach even after eight months, just consult the doctor and check. Don’t stress over if they don’t keep up with the term babies.
Keep them warm
It is always ideal to avoid AC and keep the room warm so that the baby would be kept warm. In hospitals, they are inside a warmer. We need to give the same or almost the same conditions at home. If you are feeling hot, wrap your child properly. Make them wear woolen clothes and then wrap them. Don’t think that they will feel hot. They won’t. They need warmth. There are numerous baby swaddling videos online. Hence I am not adding it. If you need one, let me know.
Premies will never feed to the mother’s satisfaction. Their sucking reflexes will be weak and hence they might not drink the milk to fill their stomach. Waking up hungry again would be a norm for a mother with premies. If they are always hungry, it is better to express it and give or even try formula. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG IN IT. YOU ARE JUST SPARING YOUR CHILD FROM HUNGER. It is advisable to feed the child in a “gokarnam”. It is actually a punch karma equipment in ayurveda. I shall give the demonstration of how to feed the child in a gokarna.
Since my children are all grown up, I shall try it with a doll. (The tidiest I could find with the mouth open :))
Danger of aspiration.
Danger of aspirating milk is there for every new born but it is more with premies. Aspirated milk might run down their nose while they are sleeping and baby might choke on the milk. Hence keep a check on them and make them lie on their stomach with their face down. (ADVICES MIGHT SHOWER YOU WITH HOW DEFORMED YOUR CHILD WOULD BE IF THEY LIE WITH THEIR FACE DOWN– IGNORE IGNORE IGNORE)
Holding their breath while crying
Most premies or maybe many term babies hold their breath while crying, sending the mothers to a world of panic. The first thing we need to do is not to panic. It is okay. Your child is just testing your resolve. First, hold his/her leg and tap inside their feet as shown in the video. If that doesn’t work, you can do something that no doctors would approve of especially during these COVID times. Keep this as a last resort. Wildly blow air on their face, especially nose. They will cry. They might go blue but don’t worry.
Chocking on their food
This has been a daily routine routine for my three kids. They choke on their food and stop breathing. There is nothing else to do but hold them upside down and tap their back with your palm cupped. Or you can press the chest with your forfinger and middle finger joined together, make them lie on their stomach in your hands and tap their back. Detailed illustration in the video.