Parenting a Premature Baby | UnityPoint Health - Meriter

ER - Madison

7 min Average

Understanding and Parenting Your Preemie

Progress in medical technology and the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) have made the survival of smaller and smaller infants possible. As a result, we now have a new kind of human being: The Preterm Infant.

Of course, preemies are in many ways small versions of the full term infant. But preemies also are very different from full term infants, and they live in a world that is very different from that of either the fetus in the womb or the full-term infant at home. Therefore, it is unfair to think of the preemie as either a fetus or a mini full-term baby: preemies are unique, and deserve unique and special treatment.

The preemie of 24 weeks gestational age would normally expect about 16 more weeks in the womb, where:

  • oxygen and food are provided by the placenta, thus there is no need to breathe or digest.
  • temperature is comfortable and stable.
  • there is protection from injury.
  • the effects of gravity are not felt, and the baby moves easily and stays comfortably curled-up (flexed).
  • there is constant motion, thus the baby is rocked gently much of the time.
  • the baby feels the rhythms of the mother's changing day-night activity.
  • the baby's nervous system does not have to respond to lots of different kinds of things (sights, sounds, touches).
  • there are no intense lights, sounds and touches, although the baby does hear his/her mother's rhythmic heart and bowel sounds, can hear speech, and feels gentle touch from his/her own limbs and the fluid and sides of the womb.

SPIN Group

Parents of NICU babies are welcome to join the SPIN Group meeting. SPIN stands for Supporting Parents In the NICU Group.

Every Friday NOON - 1:00 pm Lunch and refreshments provided

NICU Family Room

All parents are welcome and encouraged to come and share your story

Ask your nurse or medical team for more information!

Supported by: Mikayla's Grace and UnityPoint Health - Meriter