Premature Babies Are So Special
Premature babies can survive with sometimes little medical support from 23 weeks of gestation onwards. A 23-weeker is very tiny, but the baby has everything ! Above all-they need our love and support and they can always surprise us...
A premature baby is a complete, perfect, wonderful human being, it can even scream quite loud, its facial expressions may range from smiling to a rather angry look, only to change into the expression of an old person, furrowing its brows and then to a soft, wrinkleless babyface within seconds – sometimes you want to look at them for hours. Nature of course has a different plan: babies are supposed to stay in mothers womb for up to 40 weeks of gestation.
The aberrance from natures plan poses quite some problems to the baby: the skin is thin, only 1 or two layers of cells protect the body; the lungs tend to collapse, because certain proteins are not produced by the lung cells and the ribs consist mainly of cartilage, not bony tissue yet; the central nervous system is extremely vulnerable to rupture of vessel membranes, the neurons have to migrate from the inner to the outer parts of the brain, they have to branch, connect to other neurons and modify the branching all the time; the intestines, the immune system and most other organs are completely designed, but barely able to cope with bodys demand without the support of mothers placenta, the softness of the amniotic fluid, the weightlessness to move in it and the darkness of the womb.
The premature exposure to worlds adventures necessitates medical procedures which are painful and of unexpected and not intended sensual input (light, loud noises, skin touch by sheets, napkins and blankets, no more weightlessness, skin injuries by intravenous catheters and blood testing, mechanical ventilation and its procedures, nutrition by the intestines, excretion of stools etc.). Infections loom as well as side effects of nutrition and treatment.
The statistics say that a 23 weeker has a mortality risk of up to 25%, depending on where it is born. There is also a risk of up to 40 % to carry away some sort of chronic impairment. These risks decrease continuously with each day and each week of gestation. Statistics show that a 28 weeker has an almost equal risk of death or chronic sequelae as a 40 weeker, of course with the help of a neonatal intensive care unit.
So – is there any helpful advice protecting babies, reducing sequelae of prematurity and leading out of the inevitable helplessness ?
First of all: prematurity is fate in by far the most cases, it is not the individual failure of a particular mother or father.
Second: do everything to gain days, if possible weeks to prolong the pregnancy to at least 28 weeks.
Third: if nothing helps and the baby comes too early- try to spend as much time as possible with your baby kangarooing, share this time with husband, grandparents and persons whom you like and trust.
Fourth: mothers should not neglect themselves and their family, mothers should complete school or studies, keep themselves in social activity and life so they can show life to their babies.
Fifth: never forget – premature babies can be tough, surprisingly strong with many resilience factors and vitality. It is worth trusting them.
Neonatal intensive care units should promote this, should be able to persue an individualized developmental care concept beside having plenty of experience and above all dedicated, skilled and sufficient nursing staff. Always remember- your baby is so special!