Preemie babies require special care, and while your medical health care professionals will do all that they can to ensure that your baby thrives, being the parent of a premature baby can understandably leave you worried and unsure of yourself. The key to taking good care of your preemie is being mentally and emotionally prepared, so take the time to read the below steps to put your mind at ease and prepare yourself for some quality time with your baby.
Understand your preemie's condition:
The first step of caring for your preemie is to learn as much as possible about your baby’s needs and medical condition. Start by writing down all your questions and look for answers by talking to your pediatrician or other healthcare professionals to fully understand your baby’s situation. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to effectively handle your baby’s situation.
Prepare your breast milk supply:
Your breast milk is your baby’s best source of proteins, which will help it fight off infections and grow. Your baby might not be able to breastfeed directly after birth, but you can still offer it breast milk through other ways. You should begin pumping directly after birth; try to pump every 2-3 hours round-the-clock the first few days, and once your milk supply is established, pump at least 8 times a day.
Learn to handle and care for your preemie:
This includes learning how to feed, change and soothe your preemie. Make sure you use a warm and loving tone when speaking to your baby, and cradle it in your arms when it is ready to be held. Skin-to-skin contact is often recommended for preemies as well. If you’re unsure about how to care for your preemie, talk to your pediatrician.
Take care of yourself:
Never neglect your own health and needs, as you need to be in top shape to support and care for your preemie. Get your partner and close family to help out so you can find enough time to rest and recuperate after birth, and give yourself time to heal. You should also make sure you eat a healthy diet.
Give yourself a break when you need it:
Accept help from others and allow friends and family to lend a helping hand in order to take some weight off your shoulders. You need time for yourself if you want to remain healthy both physically and emotionally, so don’t tire yourself out.
Deal with your emotions:
Having a full-term baby, let alone a premature one, is an emotional time for mothers and can trigger a range of conflicting feelings all at once. You might feel joy, excitement, sadness, anger and frustration all within the span of a single day. By acknowledging your emotions, you will move one step closer to properly dealing with them and getting help from your partner when you need it. Take things one day at a time.
Meet and talk with other NICU parents, surround yourself with understanding friends and family members, ask around with regards to mothers who have gone through the same experiences, and seek professional help if you're feeling depressed.