- Preterm births occur before the 37th week of pregnancy, and are considered risky because a baby’s organs are still developing at this stage.
- Hospitals provide round-the-clock care to monitor preterm babies’ progress and address any potential issues.
- Premature babies require specialty nutrition delivered through a tube or IV.
- Hospitals minimize stressors such as noise and light and provide skillful care to help infants develop properly.
- Modern medicine has allowed premature babies to receive the care they need and has a better chance of survival.
The birth of a new baby is always a cause for celebration. But when a premature baby is born, parents can feel scared and overwhelmed. Fortunately, modern medicine has enabled even the smallest and most fragile babies to survive and thrive.
At this point, it is up to the hospital staff to provide specialized care and attention that can help these premature babies develop correctly. Hospitals use a variety of strategies to give premature babies the best start possible. This blog post will explore some of the steps hospitals take to ensure premature babies receive the care they need.
What Is Preterm Birth?
Preterm birth is when a baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy. This type of delivery is considered risky because a baby’s organs are still developing at this stage, which makes them more vulnerable to complications that could arise from a premature delivery. In addition, babies born prematurely often have difficulty with nursing, breathing on their own, and maintaining body temperature due to their underdeveloped lungs and other organs.
The Critical Stage
One of the most critical stages of preterm birth is between 24-32 weeks gestation (the number of weeks since the first day of the mother’s last menstrual period). During this time period, the baby’s organs are still developing; however, they are much better equipped to handle life outside the womb than during earlier stages.
Doctors may decide to deliver via cesarean section or induce labor if there are any medical concerns regarding either mother or baby. If possible, it is ideal for babies to remain in utero until at least 34 weeks gestation to continue developing their organs and gaining strength before being delivered into the world.
Medical Care for Preterm Babies
The first few weeks after the premature baby is born are extremely important for the health and development of the baby. Hospital staff provides round-the-clock care to monitor the baby’s progress and quickly address potential problems. Here’s what they do:
Creating an Ideal Environment
The priority for doctors and nurses caring for premature babies is to create an ideal environment that mimics the conditions inside the womb as closely as possible. To do this, they use specialized equipment such as incubators, heated beds, radiant warmers, and oxygen hoods.
These machines use industrial cartridge heaters to help regulate the incubator’s temperature and keep it at an optimal level for the baby’s comfort.
Providing Nutritional Support
Premature babies are often too weak to feed on their own. As such, they must be given nutrition through a tube inserted directly into their stomach or intravenously (IV). While IV nutrition provides only basic nutrition in the form of glucose and electrolytes, tube feeding allows more complex nutrients such as proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients.
This helps reduce the risk of long-term complications such as stunted growth or developmental delays from nutrient deficiencies.
Exposure to noise or light can be stressful for premature babies who are still developing their senses outside of the womb. Therefore, hospitals will often keep lights off or dimmed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). NICUs may also play soft music or white noise through speakers to muffle loud noises from outside sources that may startle or distress infants.
Providing Skillful Care
Premature babies require more frequent and specialized care than full-term infants. Hospital staff must be highly trained in neonatal resuscitation techniques, monitoring vital signs, administering IV nutrition, and providing skin-to-skin contact to keep the infant warm.
Premature babies also need assistance with activities such as breastfeeding or bottle feeding, which can be challenging for infants still developing their reflexes and coordination. The skillful care provided by medical professionals helps ensure that these fragile newborns have the best chance at life.
Caring for premature babies requires special attention and expertise due to their heightened vulnerability during those first few weeks after birth. Thankfully, modern medicine has made great strides in helping these tiny patients stay safe and healthy until they are strong enough to go home with their families. With careful monitoring by dedicated medical professionals and access to life-saving technology like incubators and oxygen hoods, we can ensure that even our littlest patients get off to a good start in life!