Being a mother of three preterm kids, I think I am obliged to do a post on Premature child month. As much as we all know that preterm baby is a child born before 36 week of pregnancy, we are unaware of how to handle a premie till we have one.
Going into premature delivery is not in anyone’s hands. No one would deliberately want to take the risk of having a child who is at risk. But what if you have one? How to take care of a premature child?
Reasons for premature childbirth:
There could be many reasons for a premature delivery.
Early pregnancy, late pregnancy, fluid break, twin pregnancy, incompetent cervix, high BP, and many more. This could be hereditary as well.
Taking care of a premature child:
You will be appalled to see the teeny tiny creature. You will be left wondering what to do with such a small child. But not to worry. Three time expert is here. No pun intended.
1. Maintain the warmth
Uterus is a space where the child is most protected and kept warm. Your child is out in the world at a time he/she should be floating in the warmth of the womb. You cannot recreate it. But you can definitely do what you can.
Wrap your child in several layers of clothing. You can refer to winter clothing tips because your child.should be dressed up as if going out in winter. Avoid using A/C or fan. The NICU would be air-conditioned but remember, they are kept inside a warmer.
2. Bathing care
Bathing a premie is different from that for a term baby. Because of their tiny size and lack of fat layer under the skin, the will feel cold. Hence it is advisable to wipe them with oil. Yes! Oil.
Apply oil to their whole body. Wipe it off with a thin towel dipped in lukewarm water. Make sure you squeeze out the water from the towel. Pat with a dry towel.
Continue this till your child weighs 2.00 KG. Further, you can start bathing. Avoid massaging them till they are 2.5 to 3 kg.
3. Intermittent breastfeeding
Preterm babies cannot be breastfed like a term baby. Their sucking reflects will. not be strong. Their lungs will also not be fully developed. Hence they will be tired soon. Hence it is imperative to feed them intermittently. There are exceptions. My second child was quite masterful in filling his stomach. With him I could do the ‘feed every 2 hours rule’ But he was not quite a pre term. He was born just after 35 weeks. ie a month early. See how your child feeds and decide accordingly. You are the mother. You know better.
3. Isolate them
No matter how offended your friends and relatives would be, don’t flaunt your child around like private property. They are in a world where they don’t belong for the next one or two months. The body is not equipped to accept and accommodate the microbes in the air. Hence isolate your child. Tell everyone not to visit your child. Ask the visitors, if any, to stay at a distance. And DON’T let anyone hold your child.
I have heard comments like “she behaves as if we haven’t seen any children.” But little did I care.
4. Extra moisturisation
If you have seen preterm, you can relate to what I say. Their skin would be dry, flaky, and hairy. Little hairs called lanugo are shed in the last trimester of pregnancy. Since they came early they have the lanugo. Their skin can never have enough moisture to keep them soft. Hence, we genius in moisturizing your child. Often preterms tend to develop skin issues in the later stages of their life. Hence we can prepare early.
5. Kangaroo mother care
This technique is quite common abroad for both preterms and term babies. But in India, it has just started getting recognition.
Remove the dress on your upper body, including the undergarments. After feeding and burping your child, lay him/her stomach down on your bare chest. Cover with a bed cover and lie down for as much time as possible. This is to compensate for the loss of time inside the womb.
These are a few points to keep in mind while taking care of a preterm baby. They will lag behind in everything starting from rolling on the stomach. Calculate their milestones according to their due date. And then see if they are reaching the milestones or not.
Having a premature baby is not a matter of concern. It is a matter of pride because they are months ahead of everyone.