What You Should Know About Your Premature Baby

rbma_0019Learning that your baby will be arriving early can be overwhelming.  You may grow anxious as you wonder; what happens next?  Having a premature baby does have its challenges; however you can better prepare yourself for what to expect through education.

A baby’s birth is considered premature when they are born before the 37th week of pregnancy. There are different levels of prematurity, each of which is influenced by how early your baby was born.  The levels of prematurity are:

  • Late preterm– Babies born between 34 and 36 weeks of pregnancy
  • Moderately preterm– Babies born between 32 and 34 weeks of pregnancy
  • Very preterm- Babies born at less than 32 weeks of pregnancy
  • Extremely preterm– Babies born at or before 25 weeks of pregnancy

The earlier the birth is the higher the risk of health complications that may affect your baby:  Some of the health complications you could encounter are:

  • Heart problems
  • Respiratory problems
  • Eye disease
  • Intestinal problems

To ensure that your baby receives optimal medical attention after delivery, your team of doctors and nurses will take measures needed to stabilize him or her, which means they may need to:

  • Clear the airways and assist the baby in breathing
  • Regulate and monitor the heart rate. If the baby’s heart rate is exceedingly low, CPR may be performed
  • Transfer the baby to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) if he or she is critically ill

If transferred to the NICU, your baby will receive round-the-clock care. NICU’s are well equipped with the technologies needed to monitor and regulate babies’ health. While in the NICU, be sure to:

  • Form a relationship with caregivers
  • Consult with a lactation consultant to ensure your baby is receiving a fresh supply of milk. Breast milk is best. If you are unable to produce milk, speak with your consultant about receiving donor milk.
  • Become your baby’s health advocate. If you have a concern or have noticed something unusual do not be afraid to speak up
  • Touch your baby as much as allowed
  • Talk to your baby as much as possible; your voice will become familiar and offer comfort

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Flushing Hospital Medical Center is equipped with the latest technology to care for infants born prematurely or with complications. Even the tiniest babies can be cared for in this unit, which provides specialized testing and the use of modern equipment to manage medical and surgical illnesses. The unit is staffed by highly specialized, Board Certified physicians, certified neonatal nurses, nurse practitioners and social workers. NICU babies continue to receive specialized care after discharge. To learn more about the NICU or Obstetrical Unit at Flushing Hospital, please call the Department of Pediatrics at 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.