CARE IN THE HOSPITAL
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
Good care is provided to premature babies in intensive care units in a sterile environment. Access to these units are restricted to all except the health team, parents, and family members and the baby is thus protected against infections.
There are advisors, dieticians and nursing professionals in the intensive care units who parents can talk with. They encourage you by telling you how to feed your baby by expressing your breast milk, and how you should touch him/her inside the incubator.
The milk of a mother who gives birth prematurely is different from the milk of a mother that gives birth on term. The milk of these mothers have a content that satisfies the needs of their babies. If premature babies do not feed frequently, hypoglycaemia may occur. The baby may have convulsions and suffer a respiratory standstill due to hypoglycaemia. Due to this/her fact extreme care should be taken to ensure that premature babies cared at home are frequently fed.
Lactation commences even if the baby is born early. The content of the mother’s milk makes it the most beneficial nutrient for the baby at this time and must be fed to the baby. The mother’s milk should be pumped and kept in special milk bags.
If the premature baby’s weight is too low, nutrients are given to the baby through a soft pipe that is inserted into her stomach through her nose. Sometimes babies must be fed intravenously. In time food is given to the baby through the mouth with a spoon or spoon bottle. A baby whose sucking reflex has developed can start to breastfeed. Thus both production of breast milk will increase and the baby will feel more secure. In instances when the mother’s milk is inadequate, the baby’s nutrition must be reinforced with special formulas that are prepared for premature babies.
It has been observed that through kangaroo care premature babies develop faster and feel calmer with the smell and warmth of their mothers. In intensive care units, premature babies are laid down on their mothers’ chest and breastfed, and feel the warmth of their mothers. The love and close connection that is established between the mother and the baby is one of the most important factors that enables a premature baby to survive. Physical contact with the mother develops the cardiac rhythm of the premature baby. His/her mother’s voice is extremely effective for the neurological and mental development of the baby. The baby’s body temperature is conserved, his/her weight gain increases, and his/her development speeds up.
CARE AT HOME
What to be careful about after leaving the hospital?
● As premature babies are still defenseless against infections, extreme care should be taken with regards to hygiene for 1 year after returning home. Hand hygiene is the most effective protection and of primary importance.
● Room temperature should be kept at a fixed temperature. (24 °C – 25 °C) It should not be forgotten that temperature changes that are very cold or very hot are a danger to the health of the baby.
● The body and clothes of the baby should wrap her body and should be manufactured from cotton fabric that will not harm the baby’s skin.
● There should be no smoking within the house and the house must be regularly ventilated. Moreover it is very important that premature babies are taken outdoors for fresh air and sunlight in warm weather.
● The most ideal food is the mother’s milk. If the mother’s milk is of a sufficient quantity, it is preferable for these babies to be fed with mother’s milk. The mother should breastfeed the baby at frequent intervals. Mother’s milk is effective in curing anemia and jaundice.
● Bottles of babies must be sterilized until they are 1 year old. It is essential that you clean the bottles thoroughly in order to ensure that the baby is especially protected from stomach and esophagus infections.
● As the skin of premature babies is very sensitive, they should only be washed with soap 2 or 3 times a week and with water on other days.
● The baby’s bottom should only be cleaned with water and cotton, and cream should not be used unless the baby has a rash.
● There should not be many visitors coming to the house and the baby’s room should be a room that receives sunshine.
● It is important that the baby grows up and is supported by a physician until the age of 1.