Introduction to Premature Babies

All About Preemies From Birth to Hospital Discharge

Your tiny bundle of joy is here. Congratulations! While the number of weeks you were when you gave birth may be etched in your mind, know that Day 1 of your preemie's life is the moment that everything changed. On that day, whether it was due to preterm labor or health complications for you or your baby, your world got a whole lot brighter. But with new life, parents of preemies deal with the harsh reality of the fragility of a premature birth. Let's sort through those emotions and learn what to expect as your premature baby grows and develops.


'Newborn premature baby girl, just two days old, resting on her mother's breast.'
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Premature birth is a traumatic experience for any family. The normal fears every parent has are amplified by the heightened risk of health problems that you may feel unprepared to handle. It's OK to allow yourself to cry, laugh, scream, pray, and cope through the ups and downs of caring for your preemie. You are not alone. There are many emotions that parents feel after having a premature baby. No emotion is right or wrong, and it's normal to feel overwhelming joy and incredible anger or sadness all at the same time. Work through each emotion without judging yourself, your partner, or close family.



Newborn NICU baby sleep soundly
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Becoming a parent in the NICU is no easy task. You may have never imagined what the NICU environment would mean for you and your newborn child, so it's normal to feel out of place and uncomfortable in such a restrictive environment. Depending on how early your baby was, he or she may be in the NICU for a few days or a few months. The most important role you play in NICU life is as a loving parent to your child, and an advocate for your baby to the doctors and nurses who are providing care.



Close up of African American premature baby
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In general, babies born in the earliest weeks of pregnancy are at risk for the largest number of health problems. However, many preemies are healthy from birth and need NICU care only long enough to grow big and strong. Take a look at some of the health problems for which your preemie may be at risk.



Mother and baby in car.
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It's finally NICU discharge day! You've been waiting to have your baby with you around the clock and the time is here. Though great joy accompanies this important milestone, you may find yourself feeling unprepared to care for your child without the support you received in the NICU. And while taking care of a premature baby is a little different from taking care of a full term baby, you will learn to with the support of the NICU staff during this transition.



Pensive pregnant woman holding stomach in examination room
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If you've had a premature baby, you may be nervous or even terrified at the thought that another pregnancy will bring another preterm birth. Learning the risk factors and what doctors can do to prevent another premature birth will help you make an informed decision when planning another pregnancy.


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