10 Questions Parents of Every Premature Baby Ask And Answers by Dr Lathiesh Kumar Kambham

7 min read

Reviewed by Dr Lathiesh MBBS, MD (Pediatrics)
DM (Neonatology), Lead Neonatology and NICU Services
Aster Women & Children's Hospital
17 years of experience

Dr Lathiesh

Dr. Lathiesh Kumar Kambham is a Neonatologist and Paediatrician with over 12 years of experience. He has a special interest in the management of birth asphyxiated babies and extreme preterms and ha More

Written by Ambili Kartha

Ambili Kartha

10 Questions Parents Of Every Premature Baby Ask- And Answers
Becoming a parent has its own share of challenges. While there is no end to the apprehensions about rendering the perfect baby care, things become especially challenging if you have a premature baby. A baby born before the 37th month of gestation might differ in needs and care.

However, you hardly need to panic about baby care. There are thousands of parents around you who are blessed with preemies, and just like you, their minds are also occupied with “why’s” and “how’s” on different aspects of pregnancy. Perhaps, a quick glance at them might work well for you as a ‘doubt clearing’ session.

In This Article pregnancy pillow

Who is a Premature Baby?

Medically, any baby who is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy is a premature baby. Premature babies have different levels of prematurity, the risks being higher for an earlier birth. Babies born before 26 weeks of pregnancy are at the highest risk and are also referred to as micro-preemies. Special care, coupled with lots of positivity and attention, is essential to give your baby the best chance of surviving a premature birth easily.

Top 10 Questions Parents of Every Premature Baby Have on Their Mind

A premature baby creates a lot of concerns and doubts in parents’ minds. Find out the top ten questions that plague parents and their answers.

1. What Health Issues Might Our Baby Suffer and Are They Life Long?

preemie health issue

There might be some short-term problems if your baby is born before 32 weeks of gestation. Immature organs and a vulnerable immune system can make your baby susceptible to diseases such as sepsis, jaundice, hemorrhaging, anemia, hypoglycemia, and respiratory disorders. In some babies, there might be long-term issues like learning disabilities and partial deafness.

Many parents live the first few days after birthing a preemie in fear of losing the baby. However, keeping a positive attitude and providing medical facilities to her should be your motto. The little soul needs all the love and care you can provide. Understand that your preemie has their own unique needs, and the more care and attention you give to them, the better.

[Read : Common Health Issues Of Premature Babies]

2. Why Did We Have a Premature Child?

Why Did We Have A Premature Child_

The reasons could be many! In fact, it is not yet possible to ascertain why exactly someone had a premature baby. Did you suffer from any type of abnormalities in the uterine structure? Or there might be some infections, imbalances in hormones, or emotional trauma during the gestation period, which led to premature labor. Certain chronic illnesses can also be a potent cause.

Some other factors that enhance the chances of delivering premature babies include the poor eating habits of the mother or her unhealthy lifestyle. You have been ‘unhealthy’ if you have continued taking drugs, consuming alcohol, or smoking during the gestation period.

Insufficient antenatal care can also be responsible. Whatever the reason, mothers should not blame themselves as the subject is more complicated than you think, and several factors can be the reason behind a premature delivery. Click here to read why feeling guilty about having a premature child is actually detrimental.

3. How Would My Preemie Gain Weight?

premature baby gain weight

Premature babies are born earlier, and so they weigh less than full-term infants. A preemie can weigh as little as 2 pounds. Also, there might be feeding issues with preemies. However, a preemie must gain some weight every day, even if it is 5gm after a few days of being born.

NICU will weigh your baby daily and would have arrived at an ideal weight for your baby before discharge. Proper nourishment and feeding are the keys to making your preemie gain appropriate weight.

[Read : Know About Premature Baby Weight Gain And Weight Chart]

4. How Do I Measure My Preemie’s Age to Monitor Developmental Milestones?

Preemies Age

A premature infant’s age can be confusing because a preemies’ age and development can be defined in different ways. The below points should help.

a) Gestational Age

This refers to the time you have been pregnant – if your baby was delivered at 33 weeks, then the baby’s gestational age is also 33 weeks.

b) Chronological Age

The day and date of birth refer to the chronological age of your baby. The yearly birthdays are a reflection of that.

c)Corrected Age

Corrected age refers to your baby’s chronological age minus the gestational age. A one-year-old who is born three months earlier will have the developmental attributes of a 9-month-old.

5. Is it Necessary to Take My Child to The NICU?

preemie in nicu

At NICU, or the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, your preemie will get all the care and medical attention that are indispensable for survival and easy revival. For example, at NICU, you can get your child to an isolate, which is a special bed devised for preemies.

The care providers will also use neonatal incubators, which will help maintain the right body temperature, humidity, and levels of oxygen. Plus, there will be respiratory support, IV lines, and NG/OG Tubes, which will help feed the baby, and other monitoring equipment. Their vitals we be regularly monitored so that any health issue can quickly be taken care of.

6. How Can We Bond With My Premature Baby at NICU?

bonding with preemie

The first instinct of every parent is to gently stroke the baby. Well, if you have a preemie, you will have to hold this urge. First and foremost, you must wash your hands and sanitize before touching a baby. Second, premature babies can be sensitive to touch – they are still meant to be in the womb.

However, you can initiate the bonding by visiting the NICU regularly, touching them (you cannot stroke a preemie, however; but can lay hands tenderly on their back for comfort or gently hold their arms and legs), and practicing Kangaroo Care (which is a method of holding the child skin-to-skin) and involving in baby care activities (such as diaper change and temperature checks).

You can just put your finger in the baby’s palm and feel your angel. Talking to the baby, if allowed, can also help you bond with the baby as the baby does recognize the voices of the parents. In fact, these familiar voices make the baby feel safe and secure. Plus, mommas can also pump their breast milk for the babies to feed.

[Read : Kangaroo Mother Care For Newborn Babies]

7. When Can Our Premature Baby Come Home?

taking preemie home

Contrary to the notion, your preemie can go home even before he has reached the due date. The care providers will, however, consider certain things before discharging your baby. Your baby should be able to breathe without the support, maintain a constant body temperature, and gain weight steadily.

[Read : Taking Your Premature Baby Home]

8. Can I Wash My Premature Baby?

Can I Wash My Premature Baby_

Talk to your baby’s specialist about when you can start giving your baby a bath and how to do it. The frequency of washing your baby will depend on their level of maturity. Also, washing and cleaning a preemie can seem like a Herculean task. The best way would be to get involved in this process is to let the midwife does this for you for some time, and slowly take over.

It is fine to wash them with plain water. Just use clear water and soft cotton wool to clean the baby. Start using baby skincare products like moisturizer and baby soap only if the health care provider gives the green signal. And after washing, make sure to dry them with a soft, clean towel.

Some parents find preemies very fragile and get scared at the prospect of lifting or holding the baby. You have to trust your gut, be very cautious and sensitive, and seek advice from the doctor

9. Do We Need to Cut on Noises and Lights at Home

Cut On Noises and Lights at Home

Your baby, ideally, should have been in the womb if they are premature. For optimum care, make sure that the lights and sounds are kept to a minimum, and not a lot of people visit the baby. Apart from creating noise, the presence of too many people also poses the risk of transferring germs to your baby.

A preemie needs extra care as the baby’s immune system is not as strong as a full-term baby. This is the reason why it is recommended to keep a premature newborn baby away from too many people and from going out and about.

10. How Do We Improve  Sleeping Habits of Premature Baby?

Sleeping Habits Of Premature Baby

Make sure that you keep your newborn on his back while he is sleeping. This will help you to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, which is, as you might know, extremely common with preemies. Also, take care that your baby sleeps a lot, but at small intervals. To grow properly, they need ample sleeping time.

Raising a premature baby requires a lot of patience, care, and confidence. Remember, when it comes to preemies, every day counts.

Read Also: Breastfeeding A Premature Baby

Ambili Kartha,B. Sc Zoology (St Xavier’s college for women)

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