Premature Infant - Taking Your Baby Home
premature infant is considered ready to go home when
he or she is able to:
- Take all feedings by nipple and continue to
- Maintain body heat in an open infant
- Breathe well. (An infant whose lungs have suffered damage may
be sent home with portable oxygen.)
- Have normal breathing and a
normal heart rate for a week. (An infant who is otherwise mature enough yet
still stops breathing sometimes or has lung disease or other breathing problems
may be sent home with a device to monitor his or her breathing.)
Some infants are ready to go home as early as 5 weeks
due date. Other infants, usually those who have had
medical problems, may be sent home later.
Preparing to go home
As your infant's discharge from the hospital approaches,
you may feel excitement, impatience, and a new kind of anxiety. Responsibility
for your infant's care, which has so recently required lots of technology and
medical training, is now being transferred to you. You can best prepare
yourself by learning:
You will also want to:
- Discuss your questions and concerns with the
neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) staff, your baby's
doctor, and a discharge planner. A discharge planner can help make sure that your baby will get the right care after leaving the hospital.
- Make an appointment with your baby's doctor for a few days after your
infant's homecoming. Weekly medical checks after discharge are especially
important for a premature infant, as well as reassuring for you.
- Be current on your immunizations, and ask other people who will
be near your baby to be immunized too. It's okay to get routine immunizations while you are breast-feeding. They do not harm your baby.
If home-based health care and support are
available to you, take advantage of them. Home-based services spare you and
your infant the physical and emotional stress of traveling to numerous