Preparing to go Home
Before you leave the hospital, you will be given an advanced note on the discharge date to help you prepare. There are several factors that need to be taken care of including the following:
- All the reports and documentation should be kept for future purpose
- The house should be cleaned and have all the required equipment
- Keep a list of emergency contacts
- Arrange for comfortable and adequate transportation
- Hospital bills should be settled in advance
Before You Leave
Before you move out of the neonatal ward, you should make a checklist of things to do. This checklist will help in ensuring that you take adequate care of your baby once he/she is at home.
- Bathing your baby
- Making the baby feel reassured and comfortable
- Administering medications
- Using specialized equipment
- Keeping the baby’s bottles sterile
- Performing emergency CPR
- Checking and monitoring temperature
Allow the staff help and support you till you are ready to take your baby home and provide the best care.
Going Home on Oxygen
Once the doctors are confident of the baby’s condition, they discharge the child and it’s over to you. In some cases, the baby is sent home on oxygen. Make sure that you understand all the modalities of oxygen administration. Also, you will have to work with an authorized vendor so that you have an ample supply and oxygen support. Don’t worry, it is normal to have a premature baby on oxygen support as they might not be getting enough. This will subside over a period of time.
Transporting Your Baby
It is your responsibility as a parent to take your baby home in safe and proper transportation. The baby is coming from a clean and safe environment. You need to ensure that the mode of transportation is clean and safe as well. Avoid high traffic areas and find the shortest route home. It is important that the baby is safe from bumps, jerks, and pollution.
When you take your baby home, it will be the first time you are caring for them alone. This will be challenging but there is also so much to learn and look forward to. You have to stay calm and positive. Don’t hesitate to ask for support and advice.
Settling at Home
When you bring your baby home, it is important to give them time and space to settle down in the environment. Only then will you be able to take care of their needs. You are both bound to experience some stress, anxiety and anticipation. However, with the right support, you will be able to create a comfortable rhythm with your baby. All you need to do is make sure that the environment is comfortable and safe for the baby. This will ensure their safety and encourage their growth.
Dealing With Visitors
When your baby comes home, you will have visitors. You cannot ignore the social niceties. However, it is important to know that during this, the most important factor for you is the safety of your child. You should give your baby to visitors only once you’re sure that they aren’t exposed to any external infection and they have had sufficient rest.
Feeding Your Child
After you have left the hospital, follow the prescribed schedule of the baby. Your doctor will provide all the information on the baby’s prescription and needs. Take your time and do not rush anything.
After you have settled in at home with your baby, make sure that you have a regular doctor interface through follow up visits. This will help monitor the proper growth of the child while keeping them away from any condition relapse.
Monitoring Your Child’s Development
Your doctor will help you understand the growth patterns of your child. With this, you will be able to identify them and report any changes. Your child needs their time and space to grow. Given sufficient time, they will attain the normal benchmarks.
Once your baby is home from the hospital, they will need some time adjusting to their surroundings. So, in the initial days, they might have some trouble sleeping. To help them sleep adequately and better, you need to provide a cozy place where they get plenty of peace, love, and no disturbance. You can try cuddling them, massaging them or gently lulling them to sleep.
Soon, babies will have a regular sleep-wake cycle. To provide your baby with full attention while they are awake, you might have to change your lifestyle accordingly. You can try making your baby sleep next to you. This will help in building a maternal bond and a sense of togetherness.
It is also important for the baby to sleep in the right sleeping position. The baby should lay on their back at the start of their sleep. If during the night, they roll onto their side or tummy, roll them back.
Dealing with one baby is hard enough. Dealing with multiple babies is even more challenging. Both parents need to provide a hand. All the babies will have their specific emotional, nutritional, and growth requirements. They might also have different sleep cycles and parents will have to deal accordingly.
In case of premature multiple births, it is possible that one child is well while the other is facing serious health conditions. This might put an emotional paradigm in front of the parents. You just have to remember that each child is unique and the best way of dealing with multiple births is to not think of them as a set.
If your Baby Is Unwell
There are certain health conditions that you might have to deal with after your baby has left the hospital. These could be fever, cold, small infections or even something serious. You need to prepare to deal with these conditions so that you can respond in a timely manner.
The first step is understanding the symptoms and signs of their health. Only after that will you be able to develop a response mechanism. Here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Changes in temperature
- Excessive crying
- Rapid breathing
- Lack of appetite
- Skin changes
- Rapid breathing
- Change in stools
The response mechanisms to these symptoms include emergency care, first aid and consulting with the Paediatrician.
It doesn’t matter if your baby was born prematurely. His/her age will be calculated according to their birth date. After a certain amount of time, they will have to stop mother’s milk and switch to solid food. This is a slow process and can take a longer amount of time in case of premature babies.
You can switch your baby to solid foods when:
- They can hold their head in a stable position
- They start sitting all by themselves
- They show interest in your food
- They put their hands into their mouths
- They are able to handle new food
Here are the foods that you can give your baby at first:
- Foods that can be easily mashed inside the mouth
- Cooked soft rice
- Cooked soft vegetables
- Soft fruits like peaches or bananas
- Here are some important points to note:
- You should never feed the baby forcibly
- Solid foods shouldn’t be added to the bottle
- Don’t add sugar to baby’s food
- Don’t feed them junk food
- Don’t add salt or chilli
- Keep your baby away from whole nuts
Infants grow every day. However, for every kid, growth is different. You don’t have to worry about delayed or inadequate growth. You need to be patient and give them time and space. Just give them proper nutrition and support to help them grow better.
If you have had a premature baby, the developmental milestones will be different for them. They will be a little behind than the rest. However, this is no cause for worry because they will catch up eventually. In some cases, babies will require physiotherapy and additional support for growing adequately. In other cases, you just have to be patient and wait for them to catch up.
In case of a premature baby, it is beneficial to assess the progress of the child regularly. You also have to take advice from their paediatrician. To aid the growth of the child, it is important to undergo regular monitoring along with support and nutrition.
Advice for Families with Disabled Child
Compared to other children, premature children might have certain disabilities. In such cases, it is the responsibility of a parent to provide complete support to their child. For better guidance, you can try contacting a counsellor on the best ways to help a disabled child. It is very important for the children’s growth that they are provided with all the love and affection. You need to make your child feel that they are no different from any other kid.
Disabilities can be overcome and your child shouldn’t be made to feel any different from the others.
The Next Pregnancy
Just because you have had a preterm pregnancy before, it doesn’t mean that your next pregnancy will also be preterm. There are some challenges with preterm pregnancy. Couples often get pessimistic and avoid subsequent pregnancies. These fears are completely unfounded. There are several factors that can lead to preterm pregnancy. So, instead of avoiding pregnancy, they should try to understand these factors and if possible, take preventive measures.