June 13, 2024

How to Care For Your Preemie and Yourself?

Are you scared about your preemie’s hospital stay? Don’t worry because you aren’t the only family experiencing this. 

In America, over 380,548 babies were born prematurely last year. Thankfully, most of them are living a healthy life due to a decrease in mortality rates. It proves that hospitals are fully equipped to treat a baby that’s born prematurely. 

If your baby was born prematurely, then they might have to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for a few days or months. Yes, the neonatal doctors know what they’re doing and are aware of what’s good for your baby. Even then, as a parent, you have a say in how your child is cared for. 

In this blog, we will discuss how breast milk is better for preemies, ways to care for your mental health while your baby is in the NICU, and more. 

Don’t Get Scared of the NICU

Ideally, doctors admit a baby into the NICU when they’re prematurely born, have health issues, or are seriously ill. In this unit, you can rest assured that your baby will receive 24/7 care from experts in neonatal health. It’s basically a special nursery for newborns needing intensive care. 

When you first lay eyes on your preemie in the NICU, you’ll surely be alarmed to see all the equipment near them. You might find infant warmers, incubators, monitors, ventilators, etc. Moreover, your baby might have feeding tubes through their mouth or IV lines in their hands. 

These will surely look scary compared to how little your baby is. However, such medical equipment is the only way to help your newborn recover. These will help keep your preemie’s immunity, heartbeat, and nutritional intake in check. 

Pro Tip: While entering the NICU, you should wear hospital gowns, wash off germs, and avoid bringing toys.

Never Allow Doctors to Feed Your Preemie Baby Formula

No matter how much the nurses and doctors insist on giving your newborn baby formula, request that they feed breast milk instead. Technically, baby formula is easy to get and promises to provide the same nutrition as breast milk. But it also contains harmful ingredients that can lead a premature baby to develop health issues.

Let’s take Enfamil baby formula, for example. Reports suggest that approximately 1,000 premature babies who were given Enfamil at birth might develop Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC). This intestinal infection is the worst nightmare for the parents of a preemie. 

NEC occurs when an infant’s intestinal walls become inflamed and begin to erode. Therefore, it can lead to intestinal perforation, malnutrition, sepsis, abdominal pain, and even death. Ideally, these babies will require supportive care, antibiotics, or surgery as treatment.

Unfortunately, the manufacturers and distributors failed to warn the parents or doctors about such side effects. Hence, victims filed an Enfamil lawsuit against the responsible parties to seek compensation for their wrongdoing. Plaintiffs are claiming payouts for damages like lost income, loss of consortium, medical expenses, etc.

According to TorHoerman Law, victims can file wrongful death, product liability, or medical malpractice lawsuits against Enfamil. However, they’ll need evidence like the baby’s medical records, expert testimony, customer complaints, etc.

After knowing all this, you’re probably going to avoid baby formula at all costs. That’s good because feeding your preemie breast milk is safer and healthier.

Why Should You Rely on Breast Milk as a Source of Nutrition?

Most neonatologists advise women to breastfeed premature newborns who are in the NICU. That’s because breast milk can offer natural benefits that’ll help your baby fight and survive. Even a few drops of mother’s milk can be beneficial.

Technically, breast milk has nutrients that will help a preemie’s immunity become stronger and fight infection. It’s also easier to digest than baby formula. Feeding it will help your baby’s gut mature, and they’re less likely to develop NEC. These prove that it’s an effective way to enhance the newborn’s growth, development, and health.

According to HealthyChildren.org, the mother of a premature baby will produce breast milk of a different composition for the first few weeks. It will have a high concentration of minerals and protein to meet the baby’s needs. Initially, preemies will be fed breast milk through a feeding tube. 

Other than that, mothers should eat foods rich in calcium, iron, and protein. You can also consider taking B-12 supplements. However, you should avoid drinking and consuming caffeine, alcohol, or fish.

How Can Parents Manage Their Mental Health During This Situation?

As stated earlier, premature infants can only be treated in the NICU. On average, they might be admitted for more than 46.2 days. If that happens, your life will turn upside down, eventually affecting your mental health. 

Watching your little ball of happiness get poked with needles and tubes can truly be heartbreaking. Most parents with a baby in the NICU experience stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma. 

Even though it’s hard, you must try your best to make things seem normal. Consider following these tips if you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or sad:

  • Ask your family or friends for support during this tough time.
  • Keep a check on personal needs and wants before everything else.
  • Ensure that you stay healthy by eating on time and focusing on exercise.
  • Take relaxing baths to collect your thoughts after a long day at the hospital.
  • Plan for weekly family activities to talk about this experience.

Moreover, you can find parents going through the same situation or join support groups. Talking to people like that will help you express your feelings and share triumphs. You can also talk to the hospital chaplain if you want spiritual guidance or pastoral care.

In conclusion, parents of a preemie need to be cautious when in the hospital. Of course, you should trust the doctors, but ensure that you’re aware of everything that they are doing. 

The entire situation will be stressful, but you need to be strong for your little munchkin. Your little infant is fighting to find their way back to you. That’s why you should manage your mental health, shower your baby with love, and always remain positive. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *