Caring for premature babies: Challenges and what to do

Holding a baby in your womb for months is in no way easy. Sadly, some mothers have to cope with complications at the end of the day, like giving birth preterm.

A preterm baby is one delivered before the due nine-month period elapses. Since such babies haven’t completed their developmental process, they’re often prone to health issues. Whilst babies born early can face many challenges, with the right measures and care, your preterm baby can thrive.

The challenges

Around 60% of multiple births result in preterm infants. While the average weight of a full-term baby is about 7 lbs. at birth, a preterm infant is usually around 5 lbs. or much less, which affects their survival rate.

However, premature babies above 2.3 lbs. (1 kg) have an almost 100% chance of survival.

Another challenge is that about 80% of babies born before the twenty-eight week have more complications than those born after. These babies also generally require treatment in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), or Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU).

Feeding issues

Preterm babies often need extra nutrition to address their low weight. That’s why most hospitals and NICUs recommend giving your premature baby formula, especially since they may not tolerate direct breastfeeding right away, however, this can be a problem.

Notably, some cow milk-based formulas such as Enfamil and Similac have been linked to Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), a life-threatening disease in preterm babies.

Knowing a baby is severely sick in addition to their preterm condition can be quite disturbing for any mother. If you ever find yourself in this situation, NEC baby formula lawsuit lawyers can help you seek compensation for the pain and medical bills. While this may offer you some comfort, the funds will help facilitate your child’s care and recovery. Many parents of premature babies face financial pressures due to additional absence from work.

Breathing issues

You may notice that your premature baby cries often. This is often due to breathing problems as their respiratory system is still underdeveloped.

Breathing difficulties can be life-threatening for babies delivered more than two months early as oxygen supply wouldn’t be adequate. It’s important that doctors keep such babies under close watch and monitor their heart rate with a cardio-respiratory monitor.

You may also look towards supplying your premature baby with extra oxygen or continued positive airway pressure (CPAP).

Taking your preterm baby home

When caring for your preterm baby at home, you need make sure you’ve ask all the questions you feel you need to in advance. Ensure you ask the intensive care unit some questions such as:

How much milk do they need?

You want to maintain the same feeding standard that your baby got at NICU. Neonatologists usually employ complex calculations to determine how much food a premature baby should get, usually based on weight and developmental needs. Most preterm newborns feed about 8-12 times daily, while bottle-fed ones get 1.5-3 ounces of milk.

If your baby isn’t getting enough milk, they may suffer dehydration which will show in the form of sunken eyes, fewer than six wet diapers within 24 hours, and tearless cries.

What kind of milk should they get?

Knowing the potential health issues with cow milk-based formula in preterm babies, you should go for other high-calorie formula or breast milk. Even while using breast milk, you might be recommended to add best to add high-calorie formula powder.

Coping with the stress

Although your baby being in special care is best for your baby, it may be grieving for you. In addition to worrying about your child’s health, you miss the regular skin to skin contact and bonding that should characterise every new birth, from the comfort of your own home.

To deal with the stress that accompanies premature births, here are some tips:

  • Spend as much time as possible in the NICU. Watch your baby sleep if you can, even if they won’t allow you to hold them yet. Fortunately, some clinics even allow skin-to-skin contact, depending on the baby’s condition.
  • Breastfeed your baby as soon as your doctor gives the green light. This will help in bonding and promote the release of oxytocin to make you feel happier and relaxed. Even when your baby requires formula due to their condition, breast milk remains the best source of nutrition for infants.
  • While you may want to be with your baby at home, remember that they’re safest in the NICU at this time. Consider it best for your newborn’s health, and that knowledge can help you cope a bit.
  • Gently hold and cradle your child when the doctor gives the go-ahead. Let them feel the warmth of your motherly skin.


Rest assured that your baby will be ready to come home to you as soon as their breathing is balanced, they’re able to maintain a good body temperature, and can feed on a bottle or breast. Soon, your baby will be just like every other healthy infant.

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