Caring for a premature baby can be physically and emotionally exhausting. You may be anxious about your baby's health and the long-term effects of premature birth. You may feel angry, guilty or overwhelmed. Some of these suggestions may help during this difficult time:
- Learn everything you can about your baby's condition. In addition to talking to your baby's doctor and other care providers, ask for informational pamphlets and recommendations for good books and reliable websites for more information about preemies.
- Take care of yourself. Get as much rest as you can and eat healthy foods. You'll feel stronger and better able to care for your baby.
- Establish your milk supply. Use a breast pump until your baby is able to breast-feed. Ask the hospital staff for help — they can show you how to use a breast pump and find the supplies you'll need to store milk.
- Accept help from others. Allow friends and family to help you. They can care for your other children, prepare food, clean the house or run errands. This helps you save your energy for your baby.
- Keep a journal. Record the details of your baby's progress as well as your own thoughts and feelings. You may want to include pictures of your baby so that you can see how much he or she changes from week to week.
- Seek good listeners for support. Talk to your partner or spouse, friends, family, or your baby's caregivers. The NICU social worker often can be very helpful. If you're interested, your baby's caregivers may be able to suggest a support group in your area. Many parents find it particularly helpful to talk to other parents who are caring for a preemie.
Caring for a premature baby is a great challenge. Take it one day at a time. Despite the worries and setbacks, celebrate the surprising resilience and strength of your preemie, and cherish the time you can spend getting to know your son or daughter.
Dec. 29, 2011
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