The little, big ways preemie moms and dads can show their love
MANILA, Philippines – Welcoming a baby into this world is the happiest day of a mother’s life. However, for some, it’s also one of the scariest.
Am I ready to be a mom? Can I take care of a newborn? Did I buy the right kind of diapers? A lot of conversations can go on inside a mother’s head the moment she sees her baby.
And for a mom of a premature baby or a “preemie,” the list goes on. Will I know how to gently hold my baby? Will I be able to give my baby enough nourishment? Can our home be as nurturing as the hospital? Will I be able to take care of my preemie without the help of the nurses and doctors?
As a preemie mom, you may feel like you can only do so much for your baby.
But in the critical period between the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and the time they go home, it's your littlest actions that will actually have the biggest impact.
Creating a home away from home
Your preemie may be spending more days in the NICU than by your side at first. But this doesn’t mean you can’t spend more time with each other.
Mothers are encouraged to be with their babies to feed them, to cuddle with them, and to practice Kangaroo Mother Care or the act of nestling a baby on a mother’s bare chest for skin-to-skin contact. Wrapping the preemie around a mother’s warmth can make them feel loved and secured.
“That was our first bond. After feeding, my babies were placed on my bare chest, stripped of clothes. We were wrapped in a stretchy cloth, and would stay like this for an hour,” shared Ivy Bautista, mother of premature twins.
In some cases, mothers get discharged before their babies so to make the NICU feel more like home, moms can visit regularly to do the feeding, latching, or even just to watch over them. Simply being there can make a difference.
Moms can also talk and sing lullabies to their babies. A mother’s voice has the power to calm and comfort preemies, helping them breathe and sleep better.
“The nurses would let me cuddle each baby. We would sit in a rocking chair and I would hum lullabies that we sang when I was still pregnant. This would instantly put them to sleep,” said Ivy.
Fostering a caring environment
Prepare your home by doing thorough cleaning and sanitation, and by removing sources of harsh light and noise.
Welcome your preemie with kisses and cuddles. There’s no better way to make them feel at home than by showering them with your affection.
Let dad help in bathing your baby, and in changing clothes and diapers. Fathers are just as important in ensuring a premature baby’s rapid growth and development.
Lastly, your home doesn’t have the tools and equipment that the hospital has so parents should always be alert and attentive to the needs of the preemie.
Caring for a premature baby may seem scary and daunting. But a mother’s love will always be greater than her fears. And there’s nothing a mom won’t do to keep her baby healthy and happy.
“To say the first year was hard is an understatement. Looking back, I know I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Ivy. “Being a preemie mom brought out the strength that I never thought I had. And having gone through those tough days, I know I can tackle any challenge, anytime, any day." – Rappler.com