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- Definition of Premature Birth
- Statistics of Premature Births
- Strategies of how to easily deal with fears of having a premature child. in the NICU
- The Trauma of Learning How to Deal with Having a Premature Child
- Challenges While Having a Child in The NICU
- Medical challenges Premature Infants Face
- The Importance of Kangaroo Care
- How Kangaroo Care Saved My Baby
- Financial Challenges Of Having a Preemie
- Emotional Challenges of How to Deal with Having a Premature Child
- Studies Show That Positive Affirmations Help Parents
- My Psychiatrist Was My Savior
- Coping strategies during the NICU experience
- 15 Effective Strategies For The NICU
- Important milestones your preemie will have in the NICU
- Documenting Milestones in the NICU & After Discharge
- How to Capture Preemie Milestones in the NICU
- When is a Premature Baby Out of Danger?
- Bringing your Preemie Home After Discharge From the NICU
- Physical and occupational therapy your preemie may need after discharge from the NICU
- Helpful Resources for Parents of Preemies
- Online and Social Media Groups to Help You Learn How to Deal with Having a Premature Child
- Summary of How to Deal With Having A Premature Child
My daughter Reilly was born far too soon at 27 weeks, 2 days. My tiny 2 lbs. 7 oz, she looked like an alien. We learned 15 strategies of how to easily deal with fears of having a premature child. She was incredibly fragile and small; my then-husband’s wedding ring reached all the way past her shoulder joint, an image that has stayed with me to this day. As we entered the NICU for the first time, it felt like we had entered a universe of beeps, monitors, and the ever-looming possibility of danger.
Despite this overwhelming feeling though, I could not look away from my beautiful daughter Reilly. I simply couldn’t believe that such a tiny person could rely on me so much; how would our family navigate such harrowing circumstances? Reilly, now my son Nicholas, is thriving at 23 years old. Although this journey has been difficult sometimes, it has also been a blessing to watch Nicholas accomplish what so few thought he would achieve: growing into Nicholas who is now full of life and love. Proof that adults who were premature babies turn out just fine!
Definition of Premature Birth
Premature birth, also known as preterm birth, is defined medically as the delivery of an infant before 37 weeks of gestational age. Premature birth can have serious consequences for the baby and can lead to health issues such as difficulties in feeding and breathing, underdeveloped organs, and even long-term disability or death. Because of the potential complications associated with premature births, medical professionals recommend that women do their best to carry the baby full term.
However, despite careful prenatal care and regular doctor visits, sometimes a pregnancy must be ended early due to certain conditions that can’t wait until a later stage of development. In cases like this moms must take good care of themselves both physically and emotionally so they can cope with the circumstances as best they can.
I was hospitalized at 17 weeks and transferred to a bigger hospital 2 hours away when the baby was nearly viable, which was 20 weeks. At 26 weeks I went into labor and they stopped it, but they warned me that it wouldn’t last long. At 27 weeks the placenta abrupted to the point of no return and they rushed me into surgery. It turned out that I had placenta accreta (placenta grown into the uterine wall) and I ended up having 10 blood transfusions during the surgery.
If you know your baby will be premature, take a tour of the NICU to prepare yourself for what lies ahead. It helps show you how to deal with a premature child.
Statistics of Premature Births
It is estimated that nearly 1 in 10 babies worldwide are born prematurely, making it a major global health issue. Premature babies face an increased risk of disability and disease and require more medical care than their full-term peers. Though the underlying reasons for preterm delivery are not fully understood, educational efforts, supportive communities, and advances in medicine have helped decrease the number of premature babies year over year. When they do occur, parents can rest assured that skilled clinical teams and modern treatments from neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) are available to provide the highest level of care to their little ones – providing parents and children with the best chances for positive outcomes.
Strategies of how to easily deal with fears of having a premature child. in the NICU
A NICU, or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, is a dedicated hospital unit that provides care for critically ill and premature babies. NICU staff are highly trained nurses and doctors that focus on the specialized needs of each baby. Preemies are typically admitted to a NICU in order to give them the best chance at developing healthily.
The amount of time they have to stay will vary depending on their specific needs and progress. Length of stay typically depends on several factors such as
- Birth weight
- Respiratory issues
- Jaundice levels
- Feeding amounts
- Weight gain
On average, most preemies can go home between 32 and 36 weeks gestation. Until then, the NICU team works hard to ensure that each baby can be in reasonably good health when they get discharged and returned home with their family. While the time spent in NICU can seem daunting for parents and families, the team of medical professionals works diligently to provide the preemies with quality care so they can grow and develop optimally. Soon enough, they will be showing you how to hold a premature baby and progress into premature baby care at home!
Nicholas was in the NICU for 8 weeks and was at the time the smallest baby they had ever sent home, weighing in at 3 lbs. 12 oz. They decided to send her home because of my training as as pediatric nurse and felt that we could handle it. All I know is that as happy as I was to have him home, I was overwhelmed at the level of care that was needed. He had to be tube-fed every 2 hours but kept pulling the orogastric tube out, so it would have to be reinserted. You have to get used to keeping premature babies warm at home, too! I was tired!
Pump your breastmilk as soon as possible! Your baby needs the nutrients in the colostrum! Your body knows what your baby needs!
The Trauma of Learning How to Deal with Having a Premature Child
It’s an even more difficult reality to accept and bear. Even when you know it’s for the best, seeing your baby hooked up to machines or lying alone in their crib can break any parent’s heart. Being strong and showing support during these challenging times is essential, as I think it helps both the parents and the child to do better during this stressful period of their lives.
Your love and support can also play an important role in their recovery journey. Try talking or singing to them and simply spending time with them – this could significantly help reduce their stress levels as well as yours. Lean on family members, friends, and healthcare professionals for understanding and support during this difficult time.
Challenges While Having a Child in The NICU
Being in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can be a stressful and emotional experience, both for the baby and the parents. It presents unique challenges including equipment monitors beeping constantly, learning to understand medical language, dealing with worrying news, and periods of hope. It may also involve difficult decisions concerning treatments and care plans. Nursing staff may sometimes appear abrupt or uncaring, yet a deep understanding of the fragility of life exists within them which can make grief feel more acute for parents.
While the NICU team provides professional care to babies in crisis, families may find themselves struggling to come to terms with an uncertain situation that can feel isolating when they’re navigating unfamiliar territory. I know you are worried about premature baby problems later in life. With support from their medical team, family, and friends, however, parents can gain confidence to accompany their little ones through this truly life-changing journey.
My child’s NICU team was incredible. While I was busy worrying and sorta falling apart, they took care of everything that needed doing on the baby end. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. They expect it. We go in there being the outsiders. Soon enough, you will be a NICU pro!
Medical challenges Premature Infants Face
When a premature baby is born, they can face many medical challenges while they are in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), many of which depend on how early they were born. Some premature babies may be able to eat and breathe on their own right away, however, others may need assistance. It’s not unusual for preemies to experience complications related to development such as jaundice, chronic lung disease, and difficulty eating and gaining weight. Additionally, preemies are more prone to infections during their NICU stay due to having a weaker immune system.
Although it can be an anxious time for parents of a preemie, medical teams will do their utmost to identify any issues quickly and provide necessary care for the baby’s health. By providing support and care tailored to the individual needs of each preemie, the medical staff in the NICU strives to ensure each baby has the opportunity to grow strong so that they can continue developing after leaving the hospital.
Nicholas was born with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and was on a ventilator for his first 7 weeks, he was put on continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) at 7 weeks and went home on oxygen at 8 weeks. He was on oxygen continuously for about 9 months and then had it off and on until about age 8. He also had gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), cerebral palsy (CP), and a few other little problems, but to us he was perfect! He ended up having 3 surgeries by the time he was 8, but then that was it! After his heel cord extension surgery, he relearned how to walk and was off and running (literally). That was the last time he needed oxygen too. Nicholas also had “preemie head” when he went home, which is one of the characteristics of premature babies in adulthood. Luckily, he outgrew that over time.
The Importance of Kangaroo Care
Kangaroo Care is an important form of care for newborn babies, especially premature infants. This special type of care involves holding a baby skin-to-skin on the parent’s chest to foster physical contact, warmth, and comfort for both the baby and the parent. It has been found that this practice helps regulate the baby’s heartbeat and temperature better than an incubator or traditional methods of caring for preterm babies. Babies experience improved breathing patterns, facilitated growth, and higher energy expenditure when they receive Kangaroo Care.
Not only are there physical benefits but emotional ones as well such as longer sleep periods and increased levels of arousal when in proximity to mothers who practice Kangaroo Care. All around it has been shown to be beneficial in increasing parental involvement while promoting essential bonding between mother and child. For these reasons, Kangaroo Care can provide numerous valuable long-term psychological and physiological benefits for both parents and their infants.
How Kangaroo Care Saved My Baby
When it had been a month to the day since Nicholas was admitted to the NICU, he took a turn for the worse and it seemed like he would not survive. I overheard the nurse on the phone, saying he was dying. As his mother, I was asked what I wanted to do in his final moments. All I could think of was providing comfort and letting him know that Mama was there– so they let me hold him. Within mere minutes, the miraculous change occurred: with my embrace, Nicholas started tolerating the ventilator better, calmed down immeasurably, and his heartbeat normalized according to the doctor’s monitoring equipment. It felt as if my hug had brought back life into Nicholas– all he needed was Mama after all. The doctor and nurses had no explanation. It was a miracle.
Financial Challenges Of Having a Preemie
The financial challenges associated with having a preemie in the NICU can be overwhelming, even for families with generous health benefits. The additional costs of staying in the hospital, traveling to appointments, and accommodations can quickly add up. Other expenses, such as formula or specialized medical equipment or supplies may not be covered by insurance thanks to complicated coverage rules. For others, out-of-pocket costs for care and lost wages from taking time off work weigh heavy on their shoulders. Education about funding resources such as state programs, charitable organizations, and crowdfunding campaigns is essential for parents of preemies who are trying to manage the financial side of life during this challenging time.
Get some rest! Trust me when I say rest while you can! The NICU staff understands and encourages it. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your baby.
Emotional Challenges of How to Deal with Having a Premature Child
Having a premature baby in NICU can present uncountable emotional challenges for parents. From the initial shock of an early delivery to the extended hospital stay with all its ups and downs – it can take a toll on parents’ mental health. Aside from struggling with guilt and worry, sadness and estrangement are common emotions that parents experience during their preemies’ stay in NICU. Not being able to feed or cuddle their newborn baby is difficult for any new parent, but then add the chaos of the NICU environment, and forming close relationships can be difficult.
The emotional roller coaster of emotions can be overwhelming. Feelings of helplessness and guilt are common, ranging from wondering if there is anything that could have been done differently to worrying about the long-term effects of prematurity. Emotional support for parents through the hospital staff, family, friends, or other resources is essential to helping them cope with the physical, mental, and emotional upheaval that comes with caring for their preemie in the NICU. Although having a preemie can be frightening and stressful, with proper care and attention it should be possible to remain positive and optimistic during this challenging time.
Family Support is Invaluable
There is nothing more important than having support from family members and friends during this challenging time. To ease some of this burden, many hospitals offer special counseling with different types of therapy aiming to provide comfort and support to parents who are dealing with the complicated emotions associated with having a preemie in the NICU. My husband had 11 brothers and sisters, so we had a lot of family members to lean on. My husband stayed home with the 2 older kids for the most part, while I dealt with the NICU. It was the logical way to do things, with my background as an RN. I’ll tell you a secret though: the NICU was still scary as hell.
Studies Show That Positive Affirmations Help Parents
Studies show that reciting positive affirmations can decrease stress in parents who have babies in the NICU. Affirmations like “We are both doing our best,” or “I am going to take care of myself,” can provide a sense of safety for the baby and the parent. This can help parents cope with the emotions and fears that come with having a premature or sick baby. Practicing positive affirmations when entering the NICU environment is also beneficial in creating an atmosphere of mutual understanding and trust between parents and NICU staff. As any parent knows, support from family members and healthcare professionals is invaluable when navigating through life in the NICU. Positive affirmations can be a truly valuable tool on this journey.
CARE FOR MOM’S MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH: Breathe out anxiety and fear, and breathe in peace and courage. A NICU mom is still a postpartum mom, and her emotional well-being is important for herself and her baby. Affirmations are a wonderful way to incorporate mental health self-care into her daily routine.
I wanted to take a moment to tell you about a great resource I’ve been working with lately. It’s called Online-therapy.com, and it’s an online platform that offers a variety of different therapy options. You can choose to participate in group therapy, courses, or one-on-one sessions with a therapist, and you have 24/7 access to your therapist through text. There are also workbooks available to help you work through specific modules. I love it because it’s so convenient and accessible, and I’ve found it to be really helpful.
There is a lot of anxiety surrounding having a preemie. I was able to snag you 20% off for being my readers. This is my thank you to you and showing you how much you mean to me. I believe that everyone deserves access to quality mental health care, and this is one way that I can help make that a reality. I believe in what they stand for and the community of assistance they are building. So please, take advantage of this offer and give Online-therapy a chance.
Make a schedule for when you’ll spend time in the NICU and at home. If you have other kids, this is essential. They need you too. Your baby will be just fine.
My Psychiatrist Was My Savior
Being in the environment of the NICU can be overwhelming and emotionally draining. With nurses, doctors, tests, diagnoses, and machines all around, it’s hard to navigate everything that is happening. Knowing that your baby is being cared for in the NICU can leave family and loved ones feeling helpless. My best advice would be not to be afraid to ask for help. It took me a while to figure out what was going on and how I could manage life outside of the hospital walls. Having support from my psychiatrist enabled me to focus on what mattered most – my other two kids at home who were 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 years old. In the end, understanding what was going on inside the NICU allowed me the opportunity to really bond with Nicholas when he eventually came home.
Coping strategies during the NICU experience
As a parent of a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), it can be an incredibly challenging and emotional experience. You need to learn how to cope and to know what to expect. Coping strategies can be vital to help manage the stress and worry that come along with NICU stays. Keeping communication open between you, your partner or family members, healthcare staff, and other NICU parents about how you’re feeling can also go a long way in helping to make those stressful times more manageable.
It is important to remember that you are not alone in this journey, and there are various ways to help cope with the situation. Here are 15 effective strategies that can help provide comfort:
15 Effective Strategies For The NICU
- Take your time and voice your questions or concerns.
- Reach out to supportive family members, friends, or other NICU parents.
- Create a support box filled with items such as cards, photos, and mementos.
- Utilize mindfulness and distraction techniques like music or walking outside.
- Connect with healthcare professionals like social workers or chaplains.
- Attend group or individual therapy sessions.
- Make sure to take care of yourself – balance work life, regular activities, and rest when needed.
- Identify what triggers might arise and have an action plan ready for them
- Curb any unhelpful self-talk by using calming words and phrases.
- Rewire your thought patterns by focusing on the positives.
- Create a daily gratitude practice.
- Practice self-compassion often.
- Participate in activities that make you happy like reading or watching movies.
- Reflect regularly and allow yourself to process all of the emotions that occur throughout the journey.
- Request ceremonies in honor of your NICU baby if desired.
With these coping strategies in mind, remember that you are strong enough to endure this.
Important milestones your preemie will have in the NICU
When a preemie is born, it can be a confusing and scary time for parents. One of the most common pathways for the care of these vulnerable infants is a stay in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Although their stay may vary depending on how premature they are, how to deal with having a premature child and NICU journey will likely be filled with important milestones. Many micro preemies or infants who must remain in the NICU for weeks or months at a time will have to work hard to reach developmental goals such as gaining weight, learning to eat on their own, controlling body temperature, and being able to breathe without assistance. As these babies grow and progress through these essential milestones, parents can rest assured that their pride and joy are on their way to thriving at home with them soon!
Documenting Milestones in the NICU & After Discharge
As a parent, figuring out how to deal with having a premature child in the NICU is a journey of multiple ups and downs. Milestones are moments you’ll remember forever, so why not document them? Big and small, each one is worth celebrating! Try a video-based time machine to commemorate their entire journey or an all-inclusive baby book that allows you to keep track of all your baby’s key stages.
Other helpful items include age books that aid in marking changes as your little one grows, milestone blankets that capture special seasonal events, and photo frames designed with your growing bundle of joy in mind. Documenting milestones from the NICU and after discharge will give you precious memories to look back on and treasure for many years ahead.
NICU Baby Calendar
How to Capture Preemie Milestones in the NICU
When your baby is in the NICU, it is one of the most intense and emotional journeys a family can go through. Having a baby prematurely can be incredibly draining, so it’s important to capture the special milestones along the way as memories for years to come. Taking photos and video recordings are two excellent ways of capturing these moments, as even if your child struggles with developmental delays, later on, these recordings will stay timeless. Don’t forget to also save any medical records and care plans, as this serves as an important document that can help when applying to receive extra support or developmental resources over time. Lastly, try writing in a journal or diary so you can access what it felt like during each stage – how you were feeling emotionally and how your little one was progressing too. This type of memento translating an experience into words can provide solace when times get tough!
When is a Premature Baby Out of Danger?
When a baby is born preterm, there are risks for a variety of issues that may require extensive medical care. However, there is no definitive answer to when a premature baby is out of danger. The fact of the matter is that it depends on a variety of factors such as the gestational age and whether or not the baby was born with any existing medical conditions. For example, most babies born between 24-27 weeks who are given appropriate medical care have better chances for long-term health than those born before 24 weeks gestation. That being said, even babies born after 27 weeks gestation have an increased risk for complications, so there is never a guarantee that any particular child will be entirely out of danger until they are much older. It is important to pay attention to your child’s development milestones and contact your healthcare provider if you believe your child may need additional evaluation or treatment.
Bringing your Preemie Home After Discharge From the NICU
My child was discharged from the NICU after a long 8 weeks and ended up having to return 4 times, so the roller coaster of medical problems and emotions doesn’t end with discharge, but I found that the challenges are much easier to handle when you have your baby home with you most of the time. No matter what, there are always little things to celebrate along the way.
When you bring your preemie home after being discharged from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), there will be a complex range of emotions you experience. It is natural to feel both joy and anxiety at such a significant milestone. Undergoing this transition can be stressful for both parents and baby, and it is important to keep in mind that there may be challenges along the way. To help ensure a smooth process, consider having an expert from the NICU come visit and provide advice on topics such as how to manage your infant’s developmental milestones or set up a safe sleeping environment in your home. Additionally, seek out peer support networks for other families who have gone through similar experiences as well as professional help if needed. And most importantly, give yourselves grace and patience as you adjust to life with your preemie!
Your baby will be given an “adjusted age” that factors in how premature they are. Use that as a guideline for all milestones.
Physical and occupational therapy your preemie may need after discharge from the NICU
Being discharged from the NICU is a time of new beginnings and big transitions for preemies and their families. As you move forward with your preemie’s development, physical and occupational therapy may be necessary to ensure optimal growth and development. Physical therapists work to promote movement and muscle strength, while occupational therapists provide services to improve motor skills that are needed for daily activities. Especially in the case of preterm babies who may experience delays in physical growth due to prematurity or health conditions, these therapies provide invaluable support that can help make tasks easier for you as a parent and beneficial for your baby’s overall health. Through flexible therapies tailored to meet the needs of you and your preemie during this complicated, yet exciting time, working together with qualified professionals will help ensure that your baby continues on a path of success through the future.
Helpful Resources for Parents of Preemies
As a parent of a preemie, it can be both overwhelming and isolating. There are, however, organizations that provide invaluable resources and support. The March of Dimes is an incredible resource for medical advice, education, and support. All these organizations assure parents that they are not alone in this journey while having access to experienced professionals and fellow NICU parents who’ve been where they are now.
- Parents of Preemies (POPs) is another great organization to connect with other families dealing with similar circumstances.
- PreemieWorld offers memorable keepsakes such as clothes and copies of footprints so parents can begin creating memories together.
- Project Sweet Peas provides helpful products needed by all preemie families in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
All these organizations assure parents that they are not alone in this journey while having access to experienced professionals and fellow NICU parents who’ve been where they are now.
Online and Social Media Groups to Help You Learn How to Deal with Having a Premature Child
As a parent of a preemie, it can be difficult to navigate the unique challenges that come with this experience. Thankfully, there are many online and social media groups dedicated to connecting with other parents who may be facing similar issues. Through these groups, parents can exchange advice and share stories to ease the burden of caring for a preemie.
Popular groups for parents of preemies include:
- Preemie Parents Connect offers an array of resources for parents and caregivers.
- Little Miracles is an informative Facebook page full of support, information, donations, and friendship.
- All Things Preemie – a website designed to provide emotional, practical, and financial support by connecting families impacted by premature birth across the globe.
By joining one or more of these groups, parents can feel less isolated as they traverse their preemie journey together with others experiencing similar journeys.
Summary of How to Deal With Having A Premature Child
Having a preemie is an incredibly challenging yet rewarding experience. As parents, it is important to learn how to deal with having a premature child in order to provide your preemie with the care and support they need during this time. With the proper resources, guidance, and emotional support from family, friends, peers, and professionals, you will be able to navigate through this journey together as a team.
Take time for yourself as well. Establish self-care practices such as exercising or meditating to help ease your stress levels to be fully present for your preemie in their time of need. From physical therapy to supporting each other through online groups, these are all important components that together create a supportive environment for both you and your little one.
At the end of the day, preemies are resilient and strong. It is an honor to be the parent of a preemie and witness their incredible progress over time! With the right resources and emotional support, your preemie will make great strides in reaching milestones while you both cherish the moments along the way. Congratulations on your new baby!
When you have started catching on as to how to deal with having a premature child, you can move on to Raising a Special Needs Child: Embracing the Unexpected.
There are many online and social media groups dedicated to connecting with other parents who may be facing similar issues such as Preemie Parents Connect (https://www.preemieparentconnect.org) and Little Miracles (https://www.facebook.com/LittleMiraclesPreemies). By joining one or more of these groups, parents can feel less isolated as they traverse their preemie journey together with others experiencing similar journeys.
What is a preemie?
A preemie is an infant born before the 37th week of pregnancy, or weighing less than 5 pounds 8 ounces at birth.
How can I best care for my preemie?
Caring for a preemie can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. To ensure the best care for your preemie, make sure to follow the instructions provided by your healthcare provider and maintain a clean environment. Additionally, providing emotional support during this time is important for both your and your baby’s well-being.
What developmental delays can affect a preemie?
Preemies may have some developmental delays due to their premature birth including vision problems, hearing issues, language delays, and difficulty regulating emotions. It is important to recognize these potential delays early on so they can be addressed with therapy or other treatments as needed.
How long will my preemie need to stay in the hospital?
The length of stay in the hospital depends on each individual preemie’s health and development. Generally, preemies born at or after 32 weeks can usually go home within a few days, whereas those born earlier may need to stay in the hospital for up to 6 weeks or longer.
How can I connect with other parents of preemies?
There are many online and social media groups dedicated to connecting with other parents who may be facing similar issues such as Preemie Parents Connect and Little Miracles. By joining one or more of these groups, parents can feel less isolated as they traverse their preemie journey together with others experiencing similar journeys.