The day I bought my tiny baby home weighing just over 4lbs was the most overwhelming day I have ever experienced. We waited all day for discharge papers, prescriptions and doctors notes. We were given a first aid course, instructions on how to measure out her medicines and our car seat was checked. At around 7pm in the evening we finally walked out with her to take her home and to meet her little brother. The days that followed were intense, we had to not only settle into a feeding and sleeping routine but we had round the clock medical care to give her too. Being away from the security of having nurses around you all the time was scary as was letting her out into the big bad world where as we had been warned the germs could be a problem.
Understandably everybody wanted to meet her and we wanted to show her off but there are extra things to know if you are about to visit a premature baby. Today I’m sharing my top 5 things to remember when visiting a premature baby and their family. Most of these things apply to any newborn really but they are even more important when visiting a premature baby.
Come healthy – It sounds so obvious but that cold that barely bothers you could be life threatening to a premature baby. Little Lady had to have monthly injections to stop common colds getting on her once chronic lung diseased lungs and turning into pneumonia. Don’t be offended if the parents ask you before you visit if you are ill or if they ask you to anti bac your hands before coming in. They are just protecting their precious bundle. The fear of the baby ending up back in hospital is always at the forefront of their minds.
Don’t expect cuddles – One of things the nurses told me when Little Lady was discharged was to keep her at a distance from people. So unlike when you usually visit a newborn you may not get offered a cuddle. I found this really hard to do. I wanted to show her off so much and pass her around for everyone to get a good look at but it just isn’t worth the risk.
Remember the siblings – Little Man didn’t have the usual experience of becoming a big brother. He had a sister who he visited weekly but at home it was still him and because of everything that had happened to us he got a lot of attention when she was in hospital. Little Lady actually coming home was a huge adjustment for him so I really appreciated people making a fuss over him too.
Don’t ask too many questions – It can be tempting to ask about the ins and outs of the hospital stay but some parents really won’t be ready to talk about it. No doubt it will have been one of the most traumatic experiences of their lives. Also try to refrain from asking about medical equipment that they have with them as again it is probably also something the parents are really worrying about. For example, Little Lady came out with a little monitor that tracked her breathing, it was something that I was so aware of and worried about but didn’t really want to draw attention to either while I was still figuring it out myself.
Muck in – Parents of premature babies are tired. So tired. Long hospital trips every day and quite often for the Mummy’s there have still been sleepless nights spent expressing, ringing the hospital and just feeling guilty at having to leave their baby everyday. So as with any other newborn visit; make the tea, bring food and offer help.
I hope this helps anyone that might be going to visit a prem baby and their family. It all sounds so obvious but it can often be overlooked. Before you know it that baby will be ready for all the cuddles and the parents will be ready for all the questions!