Special Needs of a Premature Baby

Special Needs of a Premature Baby

All parents hope that their child will be born to term and be completely healthy; however, this doesn’t always occur. For many reasons, some babies just don’t want to stay in your uterus for the full 40 weeks, and any child born before 37 weeks is considered premature.

What a premature baby may need entirely depends on just how developed they are when born. Premature babies most often need help breathing and may have problems with kidney function. These two issues are resolved by having the baby intubated until he or she can breathe on their own and placing the baby under phototherapy lights until their kidneys are functioning properly.

A big concern for parents when they have a premature baby is infection, as a preemie’s immune system does not function near as well as a full term baby’s. In the hospital, your infant will likely be kept in a very sterile environment, but once you get home, it is all up to you. Take special precautions, such as having everyone sterilize their hands before holding the baby and avoiding public places. If you feel these precautions are necessary for your baby’s health, then no one should have a problem with it.

There may also be a delay in breastfeeding, so you will have to pump until your newborn has developed the necessary muscles to be able to feed. When feeding your baby, hold him or her as close as possible, to your bare skin if you feel comfortable, as this will allow you to create that important bond between mother and child, even if breastfeeding isn’t an option.

Once your baby reaches their original due date, they will most likely have caught up to where they would have been had they gone full term. Depending on how premature he or she was, there may be some developmental delays for the first year or two. For example, if your baby was 2 months premature, he or she may not begin to do things that babies at their age would do until 2 months later. This isn’t a concern, and your baby will grow out of it.

Try not to be too worried about having a premature baby, and remember to enjoy this precious part of parenthood. Before you know it, your baby will be walking and talking, and you will be chasing after them.

Oh Baby… When Babies Comes Before They’re Due
When you first found out you were expecting, chances are one of the first things you may have done is circle a due date on the calendar. From that moment, you anticipated the day you would hold your infant in your arms.

But what happens when a baby comes before their time?

Premature births are a relatively low incident; roughly 8% to 10% of births in the United States are premature.

A premature baby, sometimes referred to as a preemie, is a baby that is born before the 37th week of pregnancy. A full-term pregnancy is one that lasts between 38 to 42 weeks. Because they have not reached the maturity of a full-term baby, premature babies often weigh significantly less than full-term babies.

Luckily, today’s technologies provide amazing support to premature infants. Most preemies will spend time in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). These units are specially designed to care for the littlest and more fragile infants, supporting the infant in development of their organs and other systems. These units also maintain a warm temperature, helping the infant to keep warm, which is sometimes challenging due to their lack of body fat.

In addition to needing special medical care, preemies often have additional nutritional needs. This is due to their underdeveloped digestive systems that may require that foods (i.e. breast milk or special formula) be administered slowly, usually through a tube that enters through the baby’s mouth or nose and runs into the stomach.

Premature babies can be subject to health problems as some of their organs are not fully developed. These health problems may include respiratory issues, low blood pressure, anemia (a condition defined as a lack of red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body), and infections, among other ailments.

The good news?

Medical technology is amazing. Babies are resilient. Together, most premature babies will go on to live healthy lives. Some may show delays in areas of development. These delays may affect the nervous system, as well as speech or other behaviors. As with all children, a pediatrician will work with you to monitor the growth and development of your child and will make recommendations for a specialist if or when needed.

Although the start of life may be a bit “bumpy” for an infant who makes an early debut, thanks to medical advances, their future often shines bright.

Dare to Compare: Raising Twins to Be Themselves

Even in utero, your twins have been compared. When they are born, one is referred to as the bigger one, while the other is smaller. Then as they grow, every little thing they do or don’t do is compared to what their twin is doing. The pure language and conversation of comparing twins is inevitable and not just by the parents. Other family members and even strangers will make comments about how one is bigger, blonder, or has bluer eyes. If they are in preschool, the comparisons by teachers will make you feel as if they think you sent clones rather than humans to school. The sad part is that as they get older and begin to understand what people are saying, they unwittingly take on the labels they are given. By the time they are in their teens, they will be convinced that one is smarter, faster, better, prettier etc.! From an early age, you have to develop a clear and conscious awareness of how much you compare and contrast your twins.

The whole comparison thing starts out innocently enough. One walks first, one talks first, one sleeps better than the other, one is taller or bigger. The list is endless, but the bottom line is that they are TWO INDIVIDUALS! As a parent of twins, it is one of your jobs to allow them to grow into themselves with wild abandon and allow them not to be labeled. Adjusting your language and resisting the urge to compare them is crucial to their self-confidence in the years to come. While every child has their gifts, twins will notice their sibling’s before their own. This is magnified if, from the time they could talk, they were compared to their twin. Even though most of the comparison is done as a way to say, “wow, he is walking so much better than his brother” and intended as a compliment, there is still a small toddler who hears this and at some point begins to feel not good enough. Similarly, this causes the entire twin syndrome of being competitive at a very young age. While competitiveness is useful in life, a 2-year-old who wants to outwit and outdo their twin is full of frustration that they are unable to verbalize.

Realize that everywhere your twins go, they are looked at differently by others and people feel extremely comfortable making comments in their presence that they would never say to one child. If your kids look identical, a whole community of otherwise smart people think they are the same. If you have fraternal twins, then people have to compare everything from their looks to behavior. When you cease to do this, you are providing an umbrella with which they are sheltered from ever feeling less than their sibling.

In a way, this is the unfortunate side of your toddler being a twin. They can’t even go to the doctor or dentist without being compared in some manner. As they get older, if a handle is not put on the whole comparison and contrast scenario, it can wreak havoc on their self-esteem and personal development. As a parent, you should quickly do what you can to embrace what makes them unique in a positive light and get into the habit of protecting them from the abundant outside comparisons they will receive.

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