Premature Infant - Taking Your Baby Home
Your premature infant is considered ready to go home when he or she is able to:
- Take all feedings by nipple and continue to gain weight.
- Maintain body heat in an open infant bed.
- 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 before their 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 appointments.