Handle With Care

Parenting a preemie comes with its own set of challenges. But with a little extra care, your early bird will be flourishing in no time!

Preemie drinking from an angled bottle

Ditch the guilt

Some preemie moms tend to blame themselves for delivering a preemie. This is completely irrational thinking and you need to ditch this preemie mom guilt ASAP. It will do you no good to blame yourself. There are myriad reasons why babies are born prematurely -- and often the cause is unknown -- and little of them have anything do to with the mother doing anything wrong.

To get past your preemie mom guilt, boost yourself up with positive affirmations, talk through your feelings with your partner or seek help from a professional.

Bond with baby in the NICU

If your preemie has to be in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), talk with the nurses to arrange visits and bonding time outside of essentials like feeding times. Spending time holding, cuddling with and talking to your preemie is important at this time, if the doctors will allow it.

Dealing with reflux

Spitting up or reflux is common in all babies, but even more so in preemies. If your preemie experiences reflux, try shorter feeding sessions so baby takes in less milk at one time and feed him in an upright position. If you're bottle feeding, try a nipple designed to allow less air flow through to baby and raise up baby's bed on one end to create an angle. Call your pediatrician if baby's spit up is yellow or green, if he projectile vomits or if he arches his back or cries during feeding sessions.

Don't panic about development

For the most part, beyond a little extra care and effort on your end, your preemie will develop just like a full-term birth baby. Within the first year of life, your preemie will likely have caught up to his expected size and weight for his age. A small portion of preemies may never fully catch up to full-term babies, but usually this is a result of a defined medical reason for the premature birth.

More on preemies

Realizing your limits: Tips for new preemie moms
Tips on bringing home your premature baby
Adjust to life with a preemie

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