Everything you didn’t know about having a premature baby - that you should.
What is considered as a Premature Birth?
Premature Birth of the baby is when the baby's birth takes place more than three weeks before the baby's estimated due date i.e. the baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy is considered premature or born too early. Also known as Preterm or Preemie Baby. Premature babies are often born with moderate to complicated medical problems. So the earlier the baby is born, the higher the risk of complications.
Preterm by Category:
Late Preterm Baby: Babies born between 34 weeks to 37 weeks are termed as Late Preterm Babies. The baby might not necessarily look premature instead will look and act like a baby born on its due date. The baby is not fully mature and might have trouble in some ways.
Moderately Preterm Baby: Babies born between 32 weeks to 34 weeks are termed as Moderately Preterm Babies. These babies are mature enough to escape serious health issues. The health issues of these babies are short-lived and can be cured before NICU discharge.
Very Preterm Baby: The babies born between 28 weeks to 32 weeks are termed as Very Preterm Babies. These babies are at increased risk for death, medical complications, and neurodevelopmental sequelae.
Extremely Preterm Baby: The babies born at or before 27 weeks are termed Extremely Preterm Babies. The major organs of the baby are not fully formed when it is born too early and this cause health problems. Baby may not respond well to the attempts to keep him or her alive.
According to WHO, every year 15 million babies are born as a premature baby i.e. more than 1 in 10 babies. Approximately 1 million children die each year due to complications of preterm birth. Many survivors face a lifetime of disability, including learning disabilities and visual and hearing problems.
Risk Factors that lead to Premature labour:
Too little or too much weight gain
Not enough nutrients
Too much standing or heavy physical labor
Extreme emotional stress
Alcohol / Smoking
History of preterm birth
Delivery of multiples
Premature Cervical Shortening
Chronic Maternal illness
Age factor of mom-to-be
General Infection like urinary , cervical, vaginal or Kidney infections
Q. What is Kangaroo mother care?
A. Kangaroo mother care is a method for care of preterm infants. Snuggling a baby skin-to-skin is a marsupial-inspired parenting practice that comes with many substantial benefits right from the start and continuing throughout the NICU stay and beyond.
Q. How to bond with the preemie if he spends most of the time in NICU?
A. Some of the ways to bond with preemie in the NICU are Kangaroo Care , talk to them , see eye-to-eye, touch and feel them , sing to them and photograph them.
Q. How long do preterm babies stay in NICU?
A. The time that babies stay in NICU depends on how early they were born and how sick they have been. Some babies need less than a week in intensive care, but some may need up to 10 weeks and sometimes even more.
Q. Why do some babies have feeding tubes?
A. A feeding tube is used for babies who are very young and have developed the reflex to tolerate milk feeding but does not have the strength to breastfeed or drink from bottle. These babies are fed by gavage.
Q. Why some babies are feed through gavage feeding?
A. Babies who are born between 28 to 34 weeks of pregnancy are fed by gavage. It is a method where a small flexible gavage tube is placed into the baby's mouth or nose passed down to the stomach. A small amount of pumped, fortified breast milk or formula is fed through the tube every few hours.
Q. Why some babies are feed through IV feeding?
A. Babies born below 28 weeks of pregnancy are very small and sick. These babies cannot tolerate milk feeding and so they continue to receive the nutrition through their IV feeding. IV feeding will continue until the baby can tolerate milk feedings.
Q. Do preemies always stay small?
A. Premature babies start small but they do tend to catch up with other kids as they get older. Babies born very prematurely still tend to be smaller and lighter than their classmates but that is not always the case.
Q. What are the long term health risks can premature babies potentially face?
A. Some of long term health risks faced by premature babies are Learning disabilities , Cerebral Palsy , Hearing and Vision Impairment and Respiratory Problems.
Q. Do premature babies take longer time to reach the development milestones?
A. Yes Preemies often take a little extra time to develop both gross and fine-motor skills and baby/ toddler milestones such as rolling over, sitting up and taking the first step.
Q. Our baby born 2 month early seems very far behind compared to 4 month old. Will he ever catch up?
A. Your baby is probably not behind at all. He is probably where a baby conceived when he was should be. Your Baby was just a little more than minus 2 months old at birth. At 2 months of age, he was equivalent to a newborn. So at 4 months, he is more like a 2 month old. So kindly don’t compare your baby with other children his age or with average on development charts.