Premature birth: the basics Pregnancy lasts an average of 40 weeks (normally between 38 and 42 weeks). A premature birth is when a baby is born before 37 weeks. So a baby born at 36 weeks and 6 days is officially premature. The degree of prematurity is often described by gestational age as: extremely premature - from 23-28 weeks very premature - 28-32 weeks moderately premature - 32-34 weeks late preterm - 34-37 weeks.
About mixed feeding or supplementing with formula Breastfeeding has many benefits for babies and their mums. But sometimes breastfeeding is hard or your baby might not be able to feed directly from your breast. In these situations, you can often give your baby expressed breastmilk. In rare cases, a health professional might suggest that your baby needs extra nutrition from small amounts of infant formula, as well as your breastmilk.
Why reading with your baby is important Sharing stories, talking and singing helps your baby's development in lots of ways . Doing these activities every day helps your baby get familiar with sounds, words, language and, eventually, the value and joy of books. This all builds your baby's early literacy skills and helps him go on to read successfully later in life.
About premature baby body language Premature babies have different body language from full-term babies. This is because premature babies are less mature, smaller, more sensitive to touch and noise, and not as strong. For example, a premature baby's feelings might show in breathing rate, skin colour and body twitches.
About toys and games for kids You are the most interesting and important toy for your child - especially if your child is a newborn, baby, toddler or preschooler. Making time for play with your child every day helps her learning and development - and play builds the relationship between you and your child too.
What your premature baby might look like Premature babies look different from full-term babies. Premature babies might also look different from each other, depending on how early they were born. A baby born at 36-37 weeks will probably look like a small full-term baby. But an extremely premature baby - for example, a baby born at 24 weeks - will be quite small and might fit snugly into your hand.
Taking your premature baby home: your feelings You've probably been dreaming of this day for weeks or even months. You might have worried that it would never happen. Yet the day finally arrives - your premature baby is ready to go home. It's normal to have confused feelings . There's a lot to look forward to - even simple things like having the privacy to stay in your pyjamas all day if you want to.
About newborn movement and play Babies are born ready to experiment with movement. Play is one of the main ways that babies learn what their bodies can do. Newborn play is simple, but it has an important purpose - through play, newborns learn how to interact with their environment. For example, when you hold a toy close to your baby and she reaches for it, your baby discovers that she can move her arms to touch nearby objects.
Breastmilk for premature babies Your breastmilk is exactly suited to your premature baby's nutritional needs. It also protects her from infection and illnesses. If you give birth prematurely, your milk will be slightly different from full-term milk . This is because your baby's needs are different from those of a full-term baby.
Advocating for your premature baby in the NICU: your role In the NICU, the goal is for you to work together with the medical staff as a team looking after your baby. The nurses and doctors have expertise in the medical side of things. You have a special role in getting to know and advocating for your premature baby's best interests.
Premature babies and the risk of development problems Most premature babies go on to develop like their full-term peers. But the earlier that premature babies are born, the more likely it is that they'll have development problems. Late preterm babies Late preterm babies are born just a little bit early - at 34-36 weeks.
Touch and premature babies Touch is the first of a baby's senses to mature. Touching your premature baby will help him feel cared for and supported. Touch can be the beginning of your relationship with your premature baby , and it's a good way to bond with your baby. Premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) have many people touching them in many different ways.
The best toys for kids Toys can be a great way to kickstart your child's play and support your child's development. But your child might not need as many toys as you think. The best toys for children are ' open-ended '. These are the toys that your child can use in lots of different ways. They encourage your child to use her imagination, creativity and problem-solving skills.
Family-centred care in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) Even though your baby needs to be cared for by medical staff, you are your baby's family . As family, you are your baby's primary and long-term source of care, love and support. The strong bond between you and your baby should be fostered and nurtured throughout your baby's time in hospital.
Making the NICU space your own 1. Make the space around your baby more personal You can bring things from home, use people's gifts, or put up photos of yourselves and your baby's siblings to make the space around your baby different from that of other babies. But keep in mind that too much clutter can make caring for your baby difficult.
When you know you're having a premature birth You might know ahead of time that your baby will be born early, or is likely to be born early. You might be in hospital or on bed rest for pregnancy complications that make a premature birth likely. Or you might be having twins or higher multiples. Practical things to do before premature birth You'll be busy with your new baby after the birth.
Special care nursery: the basics A special care nursery has specialist doctors, nurses, other professionals and equipment to care for premature babies. But babies in the special care nursery are healthier and stronger than babies in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). If your baby is ready to go to the special care nursery, this means that medical staff are confident that she can keep up her own body temperature and breathe either by herself or with less help.
Paul's story: from premature birth to Teletubbies 'We leave the car out front and get into a ward within a few minutes. People make quick introductions and start assessing and managing the situation. 'All I feel is a lack of knowledge of what is happening and what will happen. I feel relief as our doctor arrives, assesses, leaves, prepares, sets up monitoring and tells us what is likely to happen.
About newborn play and cognitive development Interactive, simple, fun and safe. These are the kinds of play experiences newborn babies need for cognitive development - that is, to develop their ability to think. When you play with your baby and respond to your baby's cues, it makes your baby feel secure and loved.
What a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is A neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is a hospital intensive care unit that specialises in looking after premature and sick newborn babies. NICUs have specialist doctors, nurses, other professionals and equipment to care for premature and sick babies. When babies don't need the specialist care and equipment of the NICU anymore, they move to the special care nursery.
How NICU noise affects your premature baby's sleep The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be a noisy place. Even though staff try hard to keep things quiet, NICU noise often goes above the ideal level. This can make it hard for premature babies to get a good sleep. If there's too much noise, your premature baby might not sleep for as long or as well, or the noise might keep waking him up.