So the hardest times are behind you. You have survived NICU and it’s time to look forward to bringing your premature baby home. This is a daunting but exciting time. You are about to enter into a whole new life outside the bubble that is NICU. I remember the day well when the head doctor from the NICU came to visit us. It was five weeks into our NICU stay and he said, “Your twins are doing very well. They will be ready to go home in a week.”
To be honest, we had been waited on hand and foot for 5 weeks and I wanted it to stay that way. The level of care that our premature twins had got was nothing short of phenomenal. We had become accustomed to having nurses and midwives on standby 24/7. We did not want to leave the comfort of the NICU. The nurses were so nice and had become our friends but there were children that were much needier that needed the beds. Once we were told that other premature babies were waiting on a bed, we knew it was time to leave.
Rooming In before bringin your premature baby home
Before it was time to leave we went through an amazing process which is commonplace in Germany. It is called rooming in. This is when the parents of premature babies are given the opportunity to stay in the hospital for several nights. It is a practice that gives parents the chance to learn how to care for their babies with the peace of mind that a nurse or midwife is in a neighboring room.
Before your bring your premature baby home, rooming teaches you a lot of valuable lessons. You learn pretty quickly to feed and change your baby as well as how to deal with being sleep deprived. When your baby wakes at night you have to get up and feed and change them. It teaches you how to be self-sufficient and look after your baby when you finally get home. Rooming in creates a bond between the whole family.
If you are lucky enough to experience rooming in then the next stage is to bring your premature baby home. After our rooming in experience, we had become so comfortable in the German maternity ward that we did not want to leave. Naturally, we were nervous yet excited about finally coming home as a family.
If you’re anxious about caring for your preemie at home, remember that health care professionals do not send preemies home until the babies are ready. With some preparation and planning, you’ll be ready, too.
Requirements for Discharge of premature baby
Your premature babies have been in the hospital for a while. It is now time for them to go home. Before your preemie can come home they must meet some fundamental conditions. The criteria that must be met are:
- Can your baby regulate their body temperature in an open crib for 24 hours?
- Is your baby able to eat from the bottle or breast without needing to be tube fed?
- Is your baby gaining weight?
That cold November’s eve will be etched into my memory forever. The grounds of the hospital were eerily quiet and the steam was rising from our breath. Olivia’s mum had collected us from the hospital with some lovely gifts and was driving us home. It was a couple of degrees below zero and Olivia had dressed the twins in warm white snow suits. We felt so anxious as the babies seemed so fragile. Olivia’s got us home in one piece and we brought the babies up to the comfort of our apartment.
Here are 4 Tips for bringing your premature baby home.
1Be Prepared before you bring your premature baby home
Have as much prepared as possible. If your baby was born prematurely, then it is likely that you do not have everything ready at home. You can read my post on the essentials that you should have prepared after the 6th month of pregnancy here. The basics that you need are baby clothes, sleeping sacks, baby beds, nappies and a few other essentials. Click here to learn more about the newborn baby must haves that you will need for the first 6 months.
2Don’t be too scared when you are bringing your premature baby home
After being in the comfort of the NICU for a long time it can be daunting to think about caring for your babies at home alone. It is natural to be anxious, your babies are tiny and so delicate. Although they are tiny they are very robust and before you know it your preemies will blossom into beautiful babies. Try your best not to be too scared of bringing your premature baby home.
3Enjoy bringing your premature baby home
With so much anxiety and nerves about bringing your premature baby home, you can forget to enjoy the experience. Having babies at home brings your home to life. Appreciate that your baby is home and not in the NICU anymore. If you are like me then your baby being home is a dream come true. Be Grateful and enjoy every moment that you get to spend with your baby.
4Make sure that your home is the right temperature when you bring your premature baby home
This is a very simple tip and obviously, it depends on when your baby comes home. We live in Germany and our babies came home just before Christmas. As you can imagine it was a pretty cold time of year. If you live in a cold climate and your premature babies come home around Christmas then make sure that you have the heating on. Your baby will be used to the warmth of the hospital. It is important that your home is warm during the day and cool enough for sleeping at night. The night time temperature should be 18 degrees.
Don’t worry too much about bringing your premature baby home. Naturally, you will be anxious about caring for your baby alone but it gets easier with time. Your baby has had the best care possible in the NICU and now it is time to give them great care at home. Enjoy the miracle that you have been given.