When it's time to bring your baby home, you might feel relieved, excited — and anxious. Take time to consider ways to prepare for life at home with your baby after you've left the hospital:
Dec. 29, 2011
- Understand how to care for your baby. Before you leave the hospital, take a course in infant CPR. Ask your baby's medical team any questions you might have and take notes. Make sure you're comfortable caring for your baby, especially if you'll need to administer medications, use special monitors or give your baby supplemental oxygen or other treatments. Discuss symptoms — such as infant breathing or feeding problems — that might necessitate a call to your baby's care provider.
- Discuss feedings. Ask the medical team about your baby's need for supplementation in the form of breast milk fortifiers or preterm infant formula. Keep in mind that premature babies usually eat less and may need to be fed more often than full-term babies. Preemies also may be sleepier than full-term babies and sleep through feedings. Find out how much and how often your baby should be eating.
- Protect your baby's health. Premature babies are more susceptible than are other newborns to serious infections. Try to minimize your preemie's exposure to crowded places and make sure everyone who comes into contact with your child washes his or her hands first. Because preemies are especially at risk for a serious infection of the lungs and respiratory tract (respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV), your baby's doctor might recommend a preventive medication called palivizumab (Synagis), which helps protect your baby from this serious infection.
- Follow a recommended schedule for checkups. Discuss your baby's need for future appointments with your baby's care provider and any specialists. Your preemie may initially need to see his or her care provider every week or two to have his or her growth, medical needs and care monitored.
- Stay on top of vaccinations. While it's recommended that immunizations be given to medically stable premature babies according to their chronological age, delays in the immunization schedule are common. Work with your baby's care provider to stay on top of your baby's need for vaccinations. You may also protect your preemie by ensuring that others in the home are up-to-date on their immunizations, including influenza. Adult caregivers should also ask if they need a booster vaccine to protect the baby from whooping cough (pertussis).
- Monitor for developmental delays. Your baby's care provider may also monitor your baby for developmental delays and disabilities in the coming months. Babies who are identified as at risk may receive further evaluation and be referred to early intervention services.
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