This is the day you have dreamt of; it’s possibly been anticipated for weeks or even months and now it’s finally here: It’s ok to be nervous! Taking your baby home may feel frightening but the transition is easier if you know what to expect.
You’ll be encouraged to care for your baby way before you leave the unit; this is to help you bond with your baby and to allow you to feel involved in their care. Without realising you come to rely on the staff in the unit and not having their support is daunting at first.
Bringing a new life home might come with some less-than-perfect moments. However, with each day, you’ll get a little more confident, your baby will become better at communicating his/hers needs, and you’ll find things get easier. Do consult your midwife or paediatrician with any concerns you have. Also remember that the NICU experts wouldn’t have sent your baby home unless they felt you were both ready.
Caring for your child by yourself throughout the night, can boost your confidence. Knowing you can successfully feed your baby, change their nappy and check any monitors they have should really help ease your mind as you head home.
Extra Equipment: Premature babies sometimes require extra help for conditions like sleep apnea. Your baby may go home with an apnea monitor or oxygen equipment. Now is the time to ensure you understand how things work and what to do if an alarm sounds - So ask questions!
Feeding your Premature Baby: Because their tiny tummies can’t hold as much food, premature babies need to be fed more often and as a result, they don’t sleep for as long as full-term babies. This can be difficult to cope with, but won’t last forever, soon enough your preemie will be sleeping through the night.
Nappies and Clothing: Don’t forget to stock up on preemie nappies and some preemie clothes too for your tiny baby. Wrap round designs will help you to dress your premature baby with ease and are available in the smallest of sizes.
Tiny Traveller: You may need a special car seat insert made for low-birth-weight babies that will support them until they grow. Some hospitals insist on seeing your baby carrier before allowing you to take baby home and will often advise additional support. Car seats (Baby Carriers) are made for full term babies and designed to be used up to 3 months of age. They can seem huge when placing a premature or tiny baby in them.
Take Care of Yourself: It’s important that you look after yourself as well as your baby. Take any help offered, if someone offers to do the laundry, let them! Eat well, sleep when your baby does, impart your knowledge on others so that you can get some rest. Your partner or grand parents can keep an eye on your little one for a while, just explain what they need to do. Express your milk to allow baby to be fed and take some time out to re-charge your batteries. Be kind to yourself – You are not super human!
Lastly, take in the moment, celebrate how far you've come x