About 15 million babies are born prematurely each year. This is more than one in 10 of all babies born around the world. And while all newborns are vulnerable, preterm babies are acutely so. They need extra care and comfort and more nutrition to get to a normal size and weight.
This stage of caring for a premie is both – sensitive and crucial for a mum or caregiver, especially when others think a premie looks like something out of a horror movie!
New mum Syadiyah Sajuddin was sailing in the same boat. Her baby who was born premature was constantly called an ‘alien,’ but she persevered.
She has now finally decided to share her emotional story to inspire other mums of premies to never give up on their baby.
Premature Baby Health Issues: Malaysian Mum Shares Her Story
Image courtesy: File Photo
The woman– who is from Malaysia– recalled that after the birth of her baby, the doctor informed her that her daughter weighed only 1.83 kg. Syadiyah was told that her baby didn’t grow properly in the womb.
Just when the news was about to sink in, the little one contracted yellow fever. As a result, her weight slipped to 1.7 kg.
Syadiyah’s heart broke each time people looked at her newborn as if she had given birth to an ‘alien.’ She shared that her child’s body was small and her skin was wrinkled and dark. She didn’t look like the other newborns.
But she decided not to give up and decided to care whole-heartedly for her baby to bring her back to healthy.
From sticking to a proper breastfeeding schedule, to ensuring that she gets enough sleep, she was vigilant about everything. Syadiyah also made sure to see that her baby didn’t cry for long as it could further reduce her weight.
Image courtesy: File Photo
After months of devoted attention and care, the baby finally regained weight and was healthy. In fact, now people were calling her a ‘beautiful princess’.
Syadiyah shared that the reason she wanted to open up about this personal story of her baby was to inspire mums who had given birth to premature babies. She urged parents to put their effort into raising kids and not paying heed to what people around them say.
And we couldn’t agree more! After all, a baby is a miracle, no matter the size or shape.
Premature Baby Health Issues: When Should Their Weight Concern You?
While all babies are beautiful and share a similar sense of innocence, not everybody is equal when it comes to health. Some babies are born full-term and weigh around 3 kg, and others are born preterm and may weigh less than 2.3 kg.
Image courtesy: WHO
Image courtesy: WHO
As World Health Organisation points: premature baby weight gain per day depends on when the baby was born. The earlier the delivery is, the lesser the baby will weigh.
Although this may be true, as parents of a premature child, you shouldn’t lose hope. Just as Syadiyah didn’t and continued to care for her premie and brought her back to life, quite literally.
There are ways to help a premature baby grow into a healthy child, especially when it comes to increasing their weight.
5 Ways To Increase Weight Of Premature Babies
Image courtesy: iStock
1. Breastfeed your baby
Breastfeeding is one of the most important acts that helps to promote healthy weight gain in your baby. It will also help prevent all kinds of infections. Your newborn especially needs colostrum, which is full of nutrients and offers all the nourishment a baby needs.
You may also need to feed your baby on schedule instead of relying only on the hunger expressed by your baby. There is a chance that you may not be able to produce sufficient breastmilk. But you don’t need to stress about this. You can consider donor milk over any other top-up feeds.
2. Your baby needs good sleep
Premature babies need quality sleep to stimulate growth hormones and optimal brain cell development. Never make noise such as talking loudly in front of the baby or closing the room door loudly while the baby is sleeping.
Remember, while breastfeeding or putting your baby to sleep, make sure you install a dim light. This will help your little one get some quality sleep.
3. Give a good massage
According to studies, regular oil massage can help your baby gain weight as they help in lipid absorption through the skin. Try using olive oil to massage your baby. Don’t use synthetic oils on their sensitive skin.
Ideally, you should massage your baby for up to 15 minutes at a time and then let them relax as it is equivalent to exercising for them.
4. Hold the baby right
Hold your baby carefully without causing him or her to startle. When lifting, hold both arms as tightly as possible, in addition to supporting the neck and back. You can also support the baby in a cot.
If you have friends or family members visiting to meet your baby, politely ask them to not hold the baby. This way you prevent any potential infection or premature baby health issues that may harm them.
5. Perform stimulation
Stimulation can help your baby to grow and curb two of the biggest premature baby health issues-physical and emotional health.
The trick is to warm your palms and then place the index finger in his grip. The magic of touch, sound and sight can work wonders on your premature baby. Don’t forget to cuddle your baby and spend quality bath time together to boost their physical and emotional well-being.
Babies really like their mother’s voice, so you can talk while breastfeeding or before your baby falls asleep.
Preemie Parent Stress: How To Cope
Now, it goes without saying that as new parents of a premature baby you go through an extremely stressful time. Given the fragile health in the initial weeks, you may not be able to hold the baby immediately after birth.
Of course, this isn’t the ideal start to the motherhood that you imagines, but there are ways to deal with it and be strong for your baby.
You should ask to see your baby as soon as possible after your delivery.
Feed your baby as soon as your doctor says it’s okay to do so. You may be instructed to either breastfeed or bottle-feed as per your baby’s desire.
Some premature babies may initially require fluids given intravenously or through a feeding tube that passes through the mouth or nose into the stomach.
If you can’t breastfeed, then express the milk for your premature baby.
While your baby is in the hospital, try getting some rest because once your child is back home, all your energy and time will be focused on the newborn.
Remember, as Syadiyah did, you also must try to stay positive and determined to bring your baby back to health. At the same time, speak to your doctor about your own well-being and seek emotional and psychological support to get through this phase.