Preemie Home Health Care and Monitors at Home
It’s a big deal to bring a preemie home from the NICU – it symbolizes your baby’s progress in meeting the milestones required to survive on his own. Sometimes preemie babies are ready to leave the NICU but still need special help with breathing or feeding. Often preemie babies are monitored regularly through check-ups or equipment to ensure all is happening as it should.
Equipment for NICU babies at home
Caring for a preemie baby at home can be challenging. These are babies born under special circumstances, and they often need special skills or equipment to keep them healthy. You may need to bring some equipment home from the NICU for a while until your baby can thrive without it.
- Feeding tube – During his stay in the NICU, your baby may have had a feeding tube placed – either through his nose or mouth, or directly to the stomach through a gastrostomy – which allows formula or breastmilk to be inserted directly to the stomach. These tube feedings are possible to administer at home with some instruction and can help baby get the nutrition he needs if he is unable to get enough by mouth on his own.
- Oxygen –It’s common for babies who required a ventilator and oxygen for long periods of time during his NICU stay to develop bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a condition that causes scarring and damage to the lung tissue. If your baby needs additional oxygen (whether from bronchopulmonary dysplasia or some other reason) you must learn how to use an oxygen tank and nasal cannula (the clear tubing that goes around baby’s head and into his nose). As your baby’s breathing improves, the amount of oxygen will be decreased day by day until he is weaned completely.
- Apnea monitor – Apnea is a short pause in breathing. Some babies need a monitor, which wraps around baby’s chest, that will sound an alarm if he stops breathing or if his heartbeat is too fast or slow.
Before your baby is discharged from the hospital, you will receive instruction on how to operate any equipment he may need. Be sure to ask any questions and learn what to do if something goes wrong.
MonBaby Sleep monitor
Preemie babies tend to sleep more frequently than full term babies, but for shorter stretches of time. Because preemie babies are at special risk for apnea, there is a higher chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). As a tool to help in preventing SIDS, the MonBaby sleep monitor keeps track of baby’s sleeping position and breathing movements, alerting parents of any problems via a smartphone app. For parents of a new preemie baby – especially if baby has apnea – it can ease the worry of SIDS while baby is sleeping.
Follow-up doctor visits
Every newborn will have well-child doctor visits throughout childhood, but preemies typically have more frequent and in-depth check-ups after leaving the NICU. The purpose is to assess baby’s growth and progress as well as conduct preventative screening for other health problems.
Your preemie baby has come a long way in his short life, and every triumph should be celebrated. With some exceptions, many premature babies grow into healthy, vibrant children and adults. To stay positive while dealing with the rigors of care early on in your baby’s life, try to remember that it likely won’t be this hard for long. Be sure to take care of yourself and accept help from family members and friends, as bringing a preemie home takes lots of time and work. By learning to safely care for your baby at home, you are contributing fundamentally to his future success.
Did your baby require any type of medical equipment when coming home? Share your story with us in the comments below!