Your Premature Baby


Even if you're not able to hold your baby right away, the infant will sense that you're there. Before a feeding or when your baby is starting to awaken, talk to her softly. She's heard you during your pregnancy, so your voice will be reassuring. You can also touch your baby before you actually hold her. Touch is one of the most important senses for babies. You'll know what type of touch your baby likes by watching her relax or withdraw. Some babies like stroking, while others prefer a light touch without movement. Try both to see what your baby prefers

If you're allowed to hold your baby, you and your partner can practice what is known as kangaroo care. Hold your baby, clad only in a diaper, against your skin, keeping her back warm with a blanket. Do this for an hour or more at a time; this closeness will benefit both baby and parent.

As babies get ready to leave the hospital, they usually progress from a warming table to an Isolette to a crib, and from taking nothing by mouth to short opportunities for breastfeeding and tube feedings to regular breast or formula feedings. Because they take in only small amounts at each feeding, premature babies will need to eat frequently once they go home. Have the nurses explain your baby's daily routine and any measures the hospital staff takes to make your baby comfortable. As often as possible, try to participate in feeding and bath times so that you can begin to feel confident caring for an infant who seems so small and fragile. And while in the hospital, talk with a lactation consultant and make sure you can have follow-up visits or consultations if you have questions later.

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