Preemies are very special babies. They are born before their due dates and they need lots of attention from their parents during their stays in the hospital. A recent study shows that parents who spend lots of time giving care to preemies, such as feeding them and giving them medicine, help their preemie babies to grow bigger and faster. Parents who are involved in their babies' care at neonatal ICUs also feel less anxiety and stress.
Babies need to bond with their parents, whether they are preemies or not. However, since preemies have more challenges to overcome, they really benefit from bonding. So do their mommies and daddies.
Now, it's time to talk about preemies. It's time to learn how they grow, how they should be cared for and lots of other interesting facts. Our guide isn't designed to be a substitute for medical advice but it can shed light on a lot of
20 They Have 2 Ages (Chrono Age and Corrected Age)
A preemie's "chrono" age is the amount of days/weeks/months/years from his or her birthday. The birthday is the date of delivery. Chrono age is also called actual age. Your baby's chrono age is calculated just like your own age is, based on birth date.
The corrected age is used to "correct" for the prematurity of an infant. Some people refer to it as the adjusted age. The formula for calculating the corrected age is starting off with chrono age and then subtracting the number of weeks that the baby was premature.
This stuff is stuff that all moms of preemies learn about, but other people may not know.
19 They Walk Later Than Non-Preemies
If you have a preemie, you should know that your child may start walking a little later than a full-term baby would, but the difference isn't too drastic. A preemie will typically hit this milestone one month later than a full-term baby would. With preemies, the typical ages for milestones for full-term babies just don't apply. Parents of preemies need to know that their babies may start doing things a bit later and not worry too much about it.
It's normal for preemies to walk a bit later. Preemies have had special challenges since their delivery dates. They need some time to play catch-up.
18 They Benefit The Most From Being Nursed
A preemie is a baby who gets incredible benefits from being nursed. Mother's milk is good for babies, and it's especially vital for delicate premature babies. Moms with babies in neonatal units usually pump their own mother's milk, which is then given to their preemies. Preemies can't handle a lot of milk at one feeding, because of their smaller size.
The milk will be given to your baby through a tube. The tube will deliver your mother's milk to his or her tummy. This mother's milk will help your baby's immune system to develop and provide a host of other benefits.
17 They Benefit from Kangaroo-style Cuddling
When preemies are cuddled kangaroo-style, they reap the rewards for decades. Kangaroo-style parenting is about holding infants right next to bare skin, and nursing them next to bare skin (when they are old enough to be nursed the typical way, rather than having mother's milk delivered to them through a tube). Babies should be held in upright positions.
Studies show that this type of skin-to-skin contact, outside of incubators, is very good for preemies. The preemies who do get kangaroo-style cuddling tend to have lower incidences of social problems when they are older. This is why moms and dads with preemies should be actively involved in their care while they are in the hospital.
16 They're The Same As Full-term Babies In Their Mom's Eyes
Moms of preemies love their babies just as much as moms with full-term babies love their babies! Preemies are tiny and defenceless and they evoke a powerful protective response in their mothers (and fathers, too, of course). That's why you'll see so many Moms and Dad hanging out it neonatal units, to stay close to their preemies until it's time to take them home.
Moms of preemies tend to experience a lot of stress, because they can't be as hands-on as moms with full-term babies can. Delivering care and love to their babies whenever it's possible is the key to relieving some of their stress...and it's great for their preemies, too.
15 They Have Different Body Language Than Full-term Infants
Doctors and nurses who care for preemies are very attuned to the special body language of these infants. They watch for certain signals based on how babies move and which sounds they make. Body language signals vary based on how premature a baby is and how long a baby has been in the hospital.
Premature babies who feel content tend to be quiet, but awake and alert. Their eyes are open and their legs, arms and face are relaxed. Sometimes, they suck on fingers or hands. They tend to turn toward sounds.
Learning about the secret body language of preemies will help you to bond with your own.
14 They Look Different From Full-term Babies
Obviously, preemies are going to be smaller. Sometimes, they are a lot smaller. Their faces may also look a little less full and developed than the faces of full-term babies. Once preemies start putting on weight and getting older, they look more like full-term babies. That's generally a sign that they are ready to go home from the hospital, as long as there are no complications.
So, don't expect a preemie to look like a newborn in a Huggies ad or something like that. Check out pics of preemies on this list to get a sense of how these lovable babies look. Remember that some preemies are more premature on their delivery dates than others.
13 Preemies Are Often Fussier
Preemies have a lot to deal with. They're delivered before their original due dates and exposed to so much noise, light, and stimulation while being cared for in hospitals. Obviously, doctors and nurses go out of their way to soothe these babies, by creating peaceful environments. But preemies, who are so small and sensitive, will react to the chaotic world around them by fussing sometimes. They tend to fuss more than full-term babies, which is totally understandable.
Preemies may remain fussier as they get bigger and stronger. Moms of preemies need to be very patient and do their best to soothe their babies.
12 They Grow Faster Than Full-term Newborns
Eighty-five percent of preemies experience catch-up growth by the time they are two. This means that they hit the normal height and weight range by their second year of life. That's pretty amazing, isn't it?
Some preemies grow at a rate that outpaces the typical growth rate of full-term babies. Sure, some preemies aren't going to grow faster than full-term babies. All preemies are different. Some may have complications which impact growth. But most do catch up big-time by their toddler years. Moms of preemies often wonder if their tiny babies will ever look like regular babies. It does happen.
11 They Usually Go Home From The Hospital On Their Original Due Dates
Preemies tend to go home with their parents when they reach their original due dates. So, the amount of time that preemie spends in a neonatal unit really depends on how premature the baby is.
If any problems crop up, a preemie may need hospital care for longer, but most do go home with mom and dad when their original due date hits. Then, their parents are able to enjoy more typical parenting experiences, although they do need to practice very careful baby care, according to the specific instructions of their babies' doctors. Moms may be apprehensive when they take their babies home. This is natural and normal.
10 They Are Typically Sensitive To Light
Preemies tend to have more light sensitivity. They benefit from resting in darker places. Most of us find it harder to sleep when the light is bright and this is especially true of sensitive preemies. In neonatal units, there is often bright light.
Health care personnel need to see preemies clearly to assess their health, and they also need to see what they are doing and check readouts of machines that help to keep preemies thriving. So, preemies have to put up with a lot while they are in the hospital. At home, moms and dads can make sure that the lighting is a little lower and a lot more soothing sometimes.
9 Loud Noises May Upset Them
In addition to extra light sensitivity, preemies tend to be very sensitive to noise. They benefit from quiet, calm and peaceful environments. You may turn your home into a soothing sanctuary for your newborn. Talk to your preemie often, in lower, quiet tones, that are audible without being too loud.
Remember that your little baby boy or girl is struggling to catch up, in terms of development, and is more sensitive to stimuli. Do you best to create a home environment that makes your preemie feel safe and protected? Don't blast music or anything like that. Once your preemie is bigger and stronger, you can live a more normal, noisy life.
8 Their Moms May Have Had Health Problems While Pregnant
Many moms who give birth to preemies have had some form of a health problem while they were pregnant. This isn't true in all cases, but it happens a lot. One example is gestational diabetes. To help to prevent gestational diabetes, avoid eating a lot of high-sugar food while you're expecting and get moderate exercise.
Even too much fruit, which contains natural sugar, may set the stage for gestational diabetes and premature birth. It's unfortunate that some women have to deal with health problems in pregnancy which raise the risk of premature deliveries, but it is a fact of life.
7 They Often Have Very Young or Older Moms
Moms of preemies tend to be younger than average or older than average. This isn't true all of the time, but statistics show that it's true quite often. If you're pregnant and quite young, or older than most moms-to-be, you should be aware that the risk of having a premature delivery is a bit higher.
Take good care of yourself during pregnancy. Follow the doctor's orders to the letter. Also, baby yourself, by allowing yourself to rest when you are tired. Take your prenatal vitamins and generally treat yourself like a queen. This may help to lower the risk of having a preemie.
6 They Must Be Fed At Slower Rates
Preemies can't handle a typical amount of mother's milk or formula when they are in the hospital. They aren't developed enough to handle typical nursing or bottle-feeding. Preemies are generally fed through tubes which deliver milk or formula right to their stomachs.
All of these tubes and things may give new mom anxiety, but they are there for good reason. The tubes help preemies to grow bigger and stronger quickly. Mother's milk is definitely best for preemies, with very rare exceptions. It beefs up their immune systems. A strong immune system will help a preemie to avoid health problems.
5 They Need Extra Phosphorus And Calcium
If an infant is born early, which is known as pre-term birth, he or she will have lower-than-average stores of phosphorus and calcium. Phosphorus and calcium are minerals and they are important for normal growth and healthy bones. Mother's milk may not have enough of these minerals for premature babies. That's why babies are given the minerals.
It's wonderful what health care teams are able to do for preemies. Doctors and nurses use years of education and training to care for premature babies effectively. These health care pros are heroes. They've helped so many preemies to grow big and strong.
4 They Need Incubators To Stay Warm Enough
Tiny preemies tend to get colder than full-term babies. That's why you'll find them in incubators in neonatal units until they are big and strong enough to go home. They must be kept at the right temperature to be comfortable and warm. Preemies lack body fat and this is why they are prone to getting cold.
Doctors and nurses make sure that incubators are at just the right temperatures for preemies. Your doctor will give you advice about how to keep your preemie warm and comfortable at home. Special clothes for preemies are available, and preemies may wear them in the hospital and maybe when they go home, too.
3 Moms Should Touch Them A Lot
Moms need to cuddle their preemies when their babies are in the hospital. Babies need the sense of safety, security, and love that being cuddled by their moms brings. So, don't hesitate to get involved with your baby's care while he or she is in the neonatal unit.
While you may feel a bit nervous, as your baby appears so delicate, nurses and doctors will give you advice about how to hold your baby and how to care for him or her. The sooner you start gently touching your preemie, the better for his or her overall development. Plus, the cuddling will give you a sense of peace. It will help to relax you.
2 Moms Should Talk to Them A Lot
In addition to touching your baby a lot, you should make every effort to talk to your baby, whether you're holding him or her or not. You shouldn't be too loud, but you should be audible. Your baby needs to hear your voice. Your preemie will love hearing you speak.
Chat about your day with your preemie as you cuddle, or let your preemie know how much he or she means to you. It doesn't matter too much what you talk about. Your baby just needs to know that you are close by. Talking to your baby will help you to form a strong bond.
1 Preemies Need To Lie On Their Tummies Sometimes
When preemies are awake, they need a little time on their tummies. They should be on their backs or sides all of the time. When it's time to put a preemie to sleep, you should know that these infants should be placed in different positions to keep head growth normal.
Sometimes, they are placed on their backs. Sometimes, they're propped up to sleep on their sides. Alternating sleep positions, and giving a preemie tummy time while awake, will help to prevent problems. Now that you know 20 fascinating facts about preemies, you'll be ready to care for your beautiful newborn, in the hospital and at home.
References: Ctvnews.ca, Parents.com, Webmd.com, Parenting.com