What to Expect
A full-term pregnancy should last 280 days or 40 weeks. That is the time when the baby is fully developed and ready to face the outside world. If a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, the baby is termed premature.
A premature baby can be born either naturally or taken out through a C-section because of certain health conditions of the mother. If the mother is diabetic, smokes or drinks a lot or is under tremendous stress, there is a greater chance for the baby to be born prematurely. On the other hand, if the mother has certain health conditions like preeclampsia, the baby may be taken out prematurely to avoid complications.
What Are The Risks Faced By Premature Babies?
When compared to the previous weeks, the chances of complications are considerably reduced once the baby is 36 weeks. But still, the baby faces certain risks like
- Low birth weight
- Difficulty in regulating body temperature
- Respiratory problems
In very rare cases, death can also happen for premature babies.
Because of these reasons, premature babies are normally admitted to a neonatal ICU soon after birth.
When Can A Premature Baby Go Home After Birth?
There is no specific time frame for the baby to go home. It depends on the general health of the baby. Normally a baby will be discharged after considering the following
Absence of infection
Since the immune system of a premature baby is not properly developed, the baby is prone to infection. Because of this, the baby will be put on antibiotics to ward off infection. The discharge will be done only if the baby is free from infection after stopping antibiotics.
A premature baby does not have the force to suck because of which the feeding is done through a tube. Only when the baby starts feeding through the mouth and the blood sugar level is under control will the baby be discharged from the hospital.
Maintain normal temperature
A premature baby does not have enough fat in the body to maintain the temperature. Because of this, the baby is kept in an incubator to maintain body temperature. The baby will be discharged only when the body temperature is normal for at least 24 hours after being in the incubator.
The respiratory system of a premature baby is not fully developed. Hence, the baby will have difficulty in breathing. Normally, such babies will either be provided oxygen or put on a ventilator to help them breathe. Before discharging, the baby should be able to breathe properly without any external support.
What Special Care Should Be Given To A Premature Baby At Home?
- Since the baby has a higher chance of getting an infection, you should restrict the baby’s contact with others. It is best not to take the baby outside except for an occasional visit to the doctor.
- The baby should be made to sleep in a room with the correct temperature. The ideal room temperature should be 20-23 degree celsius.
- You should provide only a sponge bath to the baby until the weight reaches the normal level.
Taking care of a premature baby is not so easy. With utmost care and caution, your baby can become a normal and healthy child.