A premature baby isn't a reason to panic - here's why

Posted on 09 March 2012

After nine months of waiting, expecting parents look forward to the day when their baby is brought into the world. Many parents have a "birth plan," which describes all the specifics of the day mommy is supposed to deliver, like what route to take to the hospital and what baby clothes their little one will wear home.

But, for some parents, mapping out the details isn't an option. That's because one in every eight babies is born premature every year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC defines a premature baby as one that is delivered three weeks before the predicted due date. A "premie," as these babies are sometimes called, is at a greater risk for jaundice, breathing problems and other health complications than babies born after nine months in the womb.

While this is undoubtedly scary for most parents who experience a premature birth, Boston.com provides some tips that can help them get through the added stress that may occur when their baby is born ahead of schedule.

The number one rule, according to the source, is that parents should talk to a doctor, and avoid relying on the internet for information regarding the premature baby's health. This is because the internet can provide inaccurate information that is downright scary for parents to read about. The best person to get the facts from is the doctor working with the newborn.

Next, parents should keep in mind that although they may not be able to take their baby home, they should still be involved as possible in their newborn's medical treatment. That means, visiting their baby as often as possible in the NICU.

''My feeling is that parents - to the extent they can with their work schedules and family responsibilities should spend as much time as possible in the NICU. It's good for them and their baby,'' says Dr. Adam Wolfberg, a high-risk obstetrics specialist at Tufts Medical Center in Massachusetts, said in an interview with Boston.com.

Finally, parents should take each day at a time. Once a "premie" is released from the hospital, it's unlikely they will have a lot of free time to get out of the house. That's why it may be helpful for them to join online support groups for moms and dads going through the same thing. Groups like Prematurity.org provide a positive forum for parents of premature babies to share uplifting stories and helpful tips for raising a "premie."

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