Bringing home a new, premature, baby can be a very scary experience for new parents. After weeks and sometimes months in NICU, who would know all the factors that go into after-care for your precious tiny preemie?
Registered Nurse, Terry Sauer, RN, has spent her career surrounded by premature infants. As the manager of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Deaconess Billings Clinic in Billings, Montana, she cares for several babies at a time, each facing an uncertain future.
Lifesaving technology has improved dramatically in the 25 years since Sauer first stepped into a NICU, but one thing has remained constant: Today’s parents are just as worried as ever. Preparing parents is a large part of Sauer’s job. Before any baby goes home, Sauer gives moms and dads the information and the confidence, they’ll need for the work ahead.
If a premature baby (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) has just joined your family, you’re not alone, about 13 percent of babies are born early. The coming months will be filled with challenges and uncertainty, but remember that every child is different. Only your doctor or nurse can say what type of care your baby needs, and nobody can say for sure how your baby will respond. All you can do is your best.
Here are some important things to keep in mind as you care for your new baby:
How old is your baby?
A premature baby who is 3-months-old is not developmentally the same as a full-term baby who is 3-months-old. As you watch your baby grow, it’s helpful to keep in mind his “gestational age” (the number of weeks since he was conceived) and adjusted age (his age minus the amount of prematurity).
A full-term baby is 40 weeks old at birth. When that full-term baby is 1-month-old he will have