I hope you never need these tips. I pray (everyday- seriously) that fewer and fewer babies are born so very early. But it does happen. If you happen to be one of the ones who has a very, very premature baby, here are my three biggest recommendations for you:
- Try to breastfeed. (Or pump.) There are times when mom's health hangs too much in the balance to make this a viable possibility but, if there's even a small chance, try to nurse. While breastfeeding is the gold standard for ALL babies, it is even more critical for these tiny preemies. Full-term newborns have received a whole lot of antibodies through the placenta during the third trimester. Very early preemies miss out on that last trimester and, as a result, all those antibodies. Breast milk is the ONLY way for mom to pass on that protection. Try.
- Be nice to the nurses. (And the doctors... but especially the nurses.) The nurses who care for your baby will prove to be an invaluable resource to you. They can tell you, frankly, how your baby's doing. They are often the gatekeepers to when you are allowed to change, touch, or hold your baby. They can get you the answers you need. Nurses witness all manner of things and have to deal with all manner of people. Try to be the kind of person someone would want to help and your road will be much smoother.
- Take care of yourself. You know that old adage about putting on your own oxygen mask before assisting your children? Yeah... my husband and I always roll our eyes at that a little bit just because it's very hard to imagine not taking care of our babies first. Still... you need to eat. You need to sleep. You need to realize you gave birth to a baby and, as such, need to recover. I am not in the camp that suggests you "go to a movie and out to dinner" and all that... but that's more just because I don't go out and do those things if I have a full-term healthy infant either. It takes me a long time to want to go out and leave a baby behind. That's just me and I'm not judging people who choose to "get away". What I'm saying is this: if you're not nourished and rested, you can't focus and make the best choices for your baby. You're going to have a lot thrown at you. It pays to be clear-headed.
There you go. Those are my three top tips if you're facing life after just having given birth what I call "scary early"...
What three tips do you have? Or what three things can you teach me?