Pregnancy week by week



Premature babies and their needs

By Beverly Sugarman May 15, 2012

Premature babies are defined as babies who are born before their due date and have low birth weights. About 11% of all babies born are considered to be premature. Thanks to modern medicine, babies born after the 28th week and weighing at least 2lbs.3 oz. have a 95% survival rate. By the age of two years, these smaller babies have usually caught up with regular-sized babies in height and weight.

If your child is born premature, he will probably be admitted into a neonatal intensive care unit. This is due to the fact that his lungs may not be fully developed so that the baby may have difficulty breathing on his own. The premature child may also have problems feeding and his body may not be able to maintain a normal body temperature.

There is a test that the intensive care doctors will perform to evaluate what is best for your premature baby. This is called an Apgar score and it measures different vital statistics such as your baby’s heart rate and breathing. Those exam also measures muscle tone, reflex response, and the baby’s color at birth. Because of your baby’s early birth, he will probably score low on this test.

The next step the doctors will take is to place your baby on a cardio respiratory monitor. This device monitors that baby’s heart rate and breathing. This is a normal procedure for premature babies because of the delay in their lung development.

Once the doctors have finished, the baby will be placed in a warmer bed or an incubator. This device will keep the baby warm until his own body can maintain a normal temperature.

As difficult as it sounds, now the only thing to do is to wait. If you plan on breastfeeding, you can begin to pump your breasts. Even if your premature baby cannot use it now, the milk can be frozen and used later on. You should try to spend as much time with your baby as is allowed, talking to him and holding him up to your heart so that he can be comforted by your heartbeat. After all, the sound of your heart was the most familiar noise to the baby until a few days ago. You should help with feeding and changing your baby to begin to establish a bond with him. You should also keep a close eye on the baby, and report any changes that you notice to the medical staff immediately.

As you are caring for your baby, you should take the time to care for yourself also. You need plenty of time to heal from the birth and should take naps when you need to. You may also need to care for your emotional health. You may feel happy one minute and depressed the next. These are totally normal emotions in this kind of situation. You should just accept the way that you feel. You just need to take it one day at a time.

Premature babies spend most of their first month in the hospital. Some are released sooner, while other babies are released later. Every day that goes by means that your baby is getting stronger. Have faith in him and his doctors and your baby will be just fine.


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