Babies born with less than thirty-seven weeks of gestation period are called premature babies or preemie. These babies need extra medical support than normal babies due to many reasons including breathing problem that requires supplementing their oxygen intake by a ventilator, irregular breathing or apnea, regulation of temperature, feeding problems or jaundice.
Such babies are kept in a neonatal intensive care unit or NICU for weeks and sometimes even months. Premature baby nursing care plan involves taking care of the special nutritional needs of a premature baby. Their digestive system is still immature and yet they grow at a faster rate than normal babies.
Breast milk is an excellent source of nourishment as it contains milk proteins that are easy to digest and also equip the baby with a stronger immune system to fight infection and promote his or her overall development. But the baby is too weak to feed directly from breast or bottle. Apart from this, premature babies need to be fed slowly or else they stand a risk of developing NEC. Breast milk is actually pumped by the mother and fed to the baby through a tube that goes from his mouth or nose to stomach. At times, doctors might add special chemicals to this breast milk to promoter better and faster growth. Additional vitamins might also be added to supplement his or her vitamin needs. The baby’s blood chemicals like salt, blood glucose, phosphate, calcium, magnesium etc are regularly monitored and subsequently the baby’s diet is accordingly adjusted.
Some common health problem that needs to be addressed in a premature baby nursing care plan includes hyperbilirubinemia, which is having exceptionally high level of bilirubin in the body that might even cause brain damage. Another common problem is apnea when the baby stops breathing due to immature brain area connected with respiration. It generally becomes all right with age. A premature baby can also suffer from anemia or low blood pressure or respiratory distress syndrome. Ensure proper vaccination and immunization of a premature baby along with frequent check ups.
After some time you can take your premature baby home. The homecoming of such a baby is full of joys as well as lot of anxiety and apprehensions. By now the immature and frail organs of the baby are fully developed and can function independently. Thus the baby might not require specialized and intensive medical care but a premature baby nursing care plan is necessary for supportive care. Since the baby is highly susceptible to infections so outings should be limited to the hospital or doctor’s chamber. Avoid taking them with you to malls or any crowded places and keep them away from too much of contact with other children and adults. Keep the feedings of the baby frequent and well spaced to avoid dehydration. The baby should be sleeping on his back to avoid sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Lastly, taking care of a premature baby can be quite exhaustive so take out some time for yourself and ensure proper nourishment and rest.