Delivering a premature baby places you as a parent on an emotional roller coaster. Mums and dads of prem babies can expect to experience a mixture of stress, fear, optimism, despair, hope and depression after baby’s birth. However, you will discover that you’re not alone.
About 7% of babies are born prem each year, with 1.5% of them before 32 weeks and 0.4% before 28 weeks.
Whatever the reasons for premature delivery, babies who are born too soon now have a vast array of medical care awaiting them upon arrival. The earlier the baby is born – the more hospital care your baby will need. Most premature babies suffer from breathing problems, due to the immaturity of their lungs at birth. If a doctor suspects a baby will be born prematurely, often she will be administered a corticosteroid medication to help speed up lung development and prevent bleeding into the baby’s brain after birth.
Once your baby is delivered, it’s likely she will be taken straight to the Neo Natal Unit. It can be distressing for new mums to be apart from their baby, but a premature baby needs the specialized care the unit can provide. Once in the NNU, her temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and breathing will be constantly monitored, with her care overseen by a neonatologist – a consultant doctor with additional training in the care of sick and premature babies. She may be placed on a ventilator to help her breathe and she may also have IV (intravenous lines) inserted to feed and obtain medication from. She may also have a catheter inserted into the umbilical cord to give fluids and obtain blood. The array of tubes, wires and lines into your baby may can be upsetting but they’re all there to help your baby grow and get well.
You do feel a bit overwhelmed when you see all the wires and equipment surrounding your baby but realize that they are in the best possible hands with the team in the unit. When you have gone for a much needed sleep your little one will be getting cared for from its new and temporary family of nursing staff.
The nursing team are there for you too for when your feeling a bit stressed and wobbly.
As a parent who had a child in the unit for over 10 weeks it felt at a time of uncertainty it was reassuring to know that I was leaving my child in the safest hands.