Bringing a premature baby home for the first time is both exciting and stressful. Parents face a lot of challenges. From settling in to establishing a new routine to learning the rhythm that comes with having a new baby in the house, there is a lot to get used to.
From our perspective, here are the top three post-hospital challenges parents with premature babies face:
Babies in the neonatal department might spend the first few weeks or months of life being fed through a tube. At some point prior to discharge, the baby has to be able to feed naturally. Yet that does not make doing it at home any less challenging. Even practising at the hospital doesn't adequately prepare parents for the experience of having to overcome feeding difficulties post-hospital.
While baby was at the hospital, there were always nurses around to help so that mum and dad could get the kind of sleep they needed to be productive. That help instantly disappears when baby comes home. Parents can be challenged to manage their own sleep in a way that is considered healthy. What's more, we all know that even parents of full-term babies struggle to manage their sleep. Imagine what must be like for parents whose babies have medical issues.
Caring for a new baby is demanding work under any circumstance. When a baby is premature though, there can be a lot more work involved. This can make it tough for parents to remain optimistic about the future. They will have issues of self-confidence to deal with as well. Such troubles are very normal for parents with premature babies.
We encourage parents bringing home a premature baby for the first time to connect with support groups and social services. There are challenges, but those challenges can be overcome with a strong support system in place. Parents and their children can go on to enjoy healthy and happy lives filled with plenty of laughter, good times, and fond memories.