Your Premature Baby

Having a premature baby is usually stressful and worrisome for parents. The small size of your infant, the uncertainty over the diagnosis and the inability to hold your newborn right away -- combined with learning about procedures in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) -- can be overwhelming. But there are positive steps you can take to lessen your worry as you get to know your baby.

One of the most important things you can do after your baby is born is to ask questions. Make a list so you don't forget anything, and add to it as necessary. Then write down the answers so you can refer to them later. Find at least one staff person, perhaps a nurse, with whom you feel comfortable and in whom you can confide. Many parents describe the experience of having their infant in the NICU as being on a roller coaster or living in a fish bowl with their emotions exposed for all to see. Parents I've interviewed have stressed how important it was to have someone they could talk with during this time

Each hospital differs in the types of services it provides, but all are very interested in making you feel comfortable, teaching you about your baby's needs and making sure that you remain healthy for your baby's eventual homecoming. In the hospital you may ask to have curtains or screens around you for privacy during visits. Many hospitals will assign a primary nurse or team to you and your baby. If it appears that different staff will be in attendance each time you visit, ask to have one main contact nurse. While she may not care for your infant every day, she'll know you both and can help you understand what is happening and how your baby is progressing.

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