A baby born more than 3 weeks before their due date is termed ‘premature’. Find out what are the care options for a premature baby and how you can support their development in their early days.
Giving birth prematurely can be a stressful experience; things can happen so quickly, it’s not unusual to feel helpless and out of control. Understanding what is going on can be reassuring, so have a read below to find out what to expect if you do have a premature baby. If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to ask a doctor and a neonatal nurse or contact our team.
Around 1 in 10 babies are born prematurely (before 37 weeks) and most will need hospital care. After birth, depending on how early they are born, your baby will probably be taken to a neonatal unit or NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), which specialises in looking after premature or sick babies. How long they will stay there will depend on your baby’s needs; it could be just a few days, a week or two or, in some cases, months. But rest assured, they are in the best place they can be, and are most probably getting the right level of care and attention.
Seeing your premature baby attached to machines and tubes can be upsetting, but knowing what things are for can help put your mind at ease. Here are a few of the pieces of equipment you may come across:
These are just a few examples of the equipment you may need. If you’re not sure what something does, don’t be afraid to ask a doctor or neonatal nurse to explain it to you.
While a neonatal nurse can provide the right medical care, hearing your voice and feeling your touch will help reassure and comfort your baby and help you bond.
The other thing you can do to help your baby is remember to look after yourself. Having a premature baby can be emotionally and physically exhausting, and it’s easy to forget that you still need time to recover from giving birth. So try and get as much sleep as possible, don’t forget to eat healthily, and take regular breaks from your baby’s side to give yourself a breather.
If you’d like to know more about what happens when you have a premature baby, our team is here to offer advice and support.