Your Premature Baby


Don't be surprised or alarmed if there is a delay when you're expecting to take your baby home. A few "false starts" are not unusual, because the doctors and nurses want to be absolutely sure that your baby is ready to leave the hospital setting. Sometimes babies simply need a little more time to adjust to the outside world. As they begin to take larger amounts of breast milk or formula, they may need a few extra days to adjust. Don't be overly concerned by any precautionary discharge delays.

Once home with your baby, you'll find great joy in becoming a family. You'll also find that you need to help your baby get into a home routine. Premature babies usually sleep most of the day and eat throughout the night. You can help your baby get into a routine by being consistent about where she sleeps and watching for hunger cues during the day, such as increased sucking, rooting, bringing her hands to her mouth and increased movements. Premature babies do not have the strength to cry very long, and if they do, they use their energy for crying instead of eating. As your baby eats more frequently during the day, about every two to three hours, she'll sleep a little longer for one stretch at night, about four hours.

Most mothers of premature infants are very nervous because they are unsure how much milk their baby is getting. If your baby is nursing at least 8 to 10 times every 24 hours, has at least three to four palm-sized bowel movements and five to six sopping wet diapers each day and is gaining around ? ounce each day you can feel confident that breastfeeding is going well. Many premature babies do not have the energy to nurse this long and may need supplemental milk until breastfeeding is well established. Your lactation consultant and the baby's doctor will be able to help you determine how much supplemental breast milk or formula to provide, and they can also help to guide you when it is time to gradually wean your baby from the supplement as breastfeeding continues to improve. If you have concerns about your baby's weight, ask your primary care provider if you can have a nurse visit for a weight check. Some insurance companies will provide a nurse to come to your home, weigh your baby and answer your questions.

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