Duration of normal pregnancy is between 38 -42 weeks.However, sometimes due to various medical reasons, babies are born before 37 weeks. These babies are called premature babies. Premature babies are also called preemies. Because these babies are born before their due dates,
they are not fully developed and hence are more prone to various infections. Besides this, there are various other medical complications in their health and hence are kept in neonatal incentive care unit, NICU for observation and medical guidance.
Preemies are generally underweight, at birth as compared to normal babies and therefore they are very delicate to handle. Premature babies are smaller initially for the first 2 years and do not have the same growth rate as full term baby.However, with proper care during the primitive years,
they tend to have normal growth and development and gain weight gradually. Gradually they catch with the full term baby in terms of weight as well as height they grow in bursts.So, keeping a record for all their activities and updating the doctor about the same, are essential for its normal growth.
Premature babies are weak and are not able to breathe on their own. So, they are discharged from NICU, only when their organs are fully developed and they are able to breath on their own.
Feeding preemies is another challenge for moms. We all know the importance of breast milk. It helps to increase the immunity of newborns and thus helps them to fight infections. But because of weakness and lack of proper organ development, preemies are unable to suck the breasts or bottle and procure milk from them.So, mothers should pump and feed their premature baby in other way and nourish them with its healthy benefits. This also helps moms, to regulate their milk supply.
Generally, they should have 8 to 10 feedings a day and the time interval between two feeds; should not exceed 4 hrs. Basic, objective should be to keep them hydrated .So; they should be fed at regular interval of time. These babies spit after feeding. So, it should not be a concern unless they are regularly gaining weight.
Preemies are easily prone to illness because of various deficiencies in their body. Jaundice, low hemoglobin, anemia are common possible diseases.So, parents must follow and give their newborns recommended vitamins, iron etc for their healthy growth.
For first few months, most of the babies spend their days by sleeping and premature babies’ sleep slightly more .Special care should be taken while laying them on bed—
Put to bed on their backs and not on their stomachs.
Baby bedding should have firm mattress.
Preemies have greater chances of vision problem like crossed eye and retinopathy of prematurely (ROP).Crossed eyes is more common and generally goes away with baby growth. Else should always get doctor advice. In case of ROP, doctor must be consulted to avoid vision loss.