10 points of advice for parents of premature infants

Parents bringing preemies home from the hospital will need to prepare for more than just a new baby.

Giving birth to a premature infant can wreak havoc on parents. But, once your little one is ready to come home, it's important that you are prepared for what to expect and how to react. While not everything can be planned for, you can help put yourself at ease (somewhat) with some of this advice:

  1. While waiting to go home, you may not have the opportunity to hold your newborn as often as you would like due to medical issues. Instead, spend time talking to your little one, reading to him or her and staying connected in any other way you can think of.
  2. In the time leading up to your departure from the hospital, be sure to ask plenty of questions to prepare yourself for what to expect. For instance, if your new baby requires any medications, make sure that you know how to administer those properly.
  3. Before leaving the hospital, take an infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation course. This can be taught by clinicians on your child's case, and will equip you with life-saving techniques in the event of an emergency.1
  4. Although you may already have purchased a car seat, it might be time to head back to the store before you are able to leave the hospital with your little bundle of joy. Preemies are too small for standard car seats, so you'll want purchase one with a three- or five-point harness system.
  5. When placing your child in the car seat, there are additional steps you'll want to take to ensure his or her safety. Today, designs include head-support systems that will allow you to adjust things so that your baby is safe and comfortable in the car.2
  6. Another item you'll want to pick up that you likely did not receive at your baby shower: preemie-sized bottles. Many are available in 2-ounce designs, which help to reduce gas and spit up for your little one. However, if you are able to breastfeed, it may be best for your child.
  7. Once you get your preemie home safely, you'll likely be greeted by joyful friends and family members. Due to your baby's small size, he or she has a higher risk of getting infected, as germs can easily spread when aunts, uncles and friends are holding the infant. Make sure that everyone who comes in contact with your baby thoroughly washes their hands.3
  8. As your preemie grows, he or she may seem to be running a little behind schedule when compared to full-sized babies on infant-development charts. Don't fret: Your little one is likely to take a little more time hitting milestones and that's OK. Take some time to calculate how old your child would be had he or she been born on the due date, and you'll realize that he or she is likely right where is appropriate.
  9. You may even want to buy a preemie baby book that will loop you in on the normalcy of infants who come early. Only referencing guidelines geared toward full-term babies can be frustrating, so save yourself some stress by looking at information that's more relevant to your child.
  10. While the beginning months of a preemie's life can be overwhelming for mom and dad, it's important that you both take the time to celebrate in your child's life. Be sure to document as he or she grows stronger every day by taking photographs for a scrapbook.

Hospitals and parents of preemies can purchase medical supplies and other necessary equipment for keeping these babies healthy by visiting Medex Supply's online medical supply store.

1 Parenting, "5 important precautions for parents of preemies"
2 March of Dimes, "Car safety seats: tips for parents of preemies" July 2009
3 fitpregnancy.com, "Tips for parents of preemies"

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