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
- Lockwood CJ. Overview of preterm labor and delivery. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 7, 2011.
- Carlo WA. The high-risk infant. In: Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1608/0.html. Accessed Nov. 9, 2011.
- Robinson JN, et al. Risk factors for preterm labor and delivery. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 7, 2011.
- Preterm labor. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/188_1080.asp. Accessed Nov. 9, 2011.
- Mandy GT. Short-term complications of the premature infant. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 29, 2011.
- Preterm labor. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/faq/faq087.cfm. Accessed Nov. 9, 2011.
- Torpy JM, et al. Premature infants. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2009;301:2290.
- Preterm birth. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/MaternalInfantHealth/PretermBirth.htm. Accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
- Hovi P, et al. Glucose regulation in young adults with very low birth weight. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2007;356:2053.
- Stephens BE, et al. Neurodevelopmental outcome of the premature infant. Pediatric Clinics of North America. 2009;56:631.
- Barfield WD, et al. Late preterm infants. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 18, 2011.
- Rotteveel J, et al. Infant and childhood growth patterns, insulin sensitivity, and blood pressure in prematurely born young adults. Pediatrics. 2008;122:313.
- Kingma PS. Care of the high-risk neonate. In: Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0986-5..C2009-0-38984-9--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-0986-5&about=true&uniqId=236797353-5. Accessed Nov. 10, 2011.
- Matevosyan NR. Periodontal disease and perinatal outcomes. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics. 2011;283:675.
- Long CM, et al. Discharge planning for the high-risk newborn requiring intensive care. In: McInerny T, et al. American Academy of Pediatrics Textbook of Pediatric Care. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009:709.
- In the NICU: Becoming an informed parent. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.com/printableArticles/inthenicu_informed.html. Accessed Nov. 14, 2011.
- In the NICU: Becoming a parent in the NICU. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.com/baby/inthenicu_confidence.html. Accessed Nov. 14, 2011.
- Zaichkin J, et al. A different beginning. In: Zaichkin J. Newborn Intensive Care: What Every Parent Needs to Know. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Sheridan Books; 2009:25.
- Martin JA, et al. Births: Final data for 2006. National Vital Statistics Reports. 2009;57:1.
- Fenton TR. A new growth chart for preterm babies: Babson and Benda's chart updated with recent data and a new format. BMC Pediatrics. 2003;3:13. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2431/3/13. Accessed Dec. 5, 2011.
- Stewart J. Care of the neonatal intensive care unit graduate. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 30, 2011.
- Weiner GM. Problems associated with premature birth. Working with the team. In: Zaichkin J. Newborn Intensive Care: What Every Parent Needs to Know. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Sheridan Books; 2009:223.
- Thilo EH, et al. The newborn infant. In: Hay WW, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 20th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6576305. Accessed Dec. 1, 2011.
- Mandy GT. Long-term complications of the premature infant. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 30, 2011.
- Johnson YR. Long-term neurodevelopmental outcome of premature infants. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 1, 2011.
- Loren DJ. NICU players: Working with the team. In: Zaichkin J. Newborn Intensive Care: What Every Parent Needs to Know. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Sheridan Books; 2009:51.
- Stewart J. Discharge planning for high-risk newborns. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 5, 2011.
- Brodsky D, et al. Primary Care of the Premature Infant. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:1.
- Schanler RJ. Nutritional composition of human milk and preterm formula for the premature infant. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 5, 2011.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.