6 Parents Share Their Best Advice to Other Preemie Parents
A baby is categorized as “premature” if they were born three weeks or more early, according to Mayo Clinic, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who refers to premature births as “preterm births,” estimates that 1 out of every 10 babies is born too early.
Not only are these babies super small, but their shorter time in the womb can lead to health issues and a really scary time for parents and their families. Seeing your little one smaller than you imagined and needing medical intervention can take a toll on even the most prepared parent, and turning to others for advice and support can help get you through those hard times.
I asked parents of preemies to share their best pieces of advice for other parents who are going to welcome little ones of their own. From self-care to the future, this advice is worth the read.
Don't freak out
“My best piece of advice would be to not freak out. My twins were born [early]; one of them nearly died of septicemia in the hospital, and they weighed about three pounds when they were born. [They] came home at about 4.5 pounds after seven weeks in the NICU.
“Now they're advanced for their age and in perfect health. Normally, things work out. Hang in there.” — bondpeddler, reddit
Record your memories
“It can seem like stressful, painful times while you are going through them, but when you turn the corner, they are accomplishments that deserve to be recorded and remembered. It may seem like forever while you are hovering over an incubator day and night … but it really does pass in a flash when you are looking back.” — ultrasupergenius, reddit
The line is narrow, but find the joy
“My twins were born six weeks early. My daughter went home with us, but my son stayed in the NICU. They wouldn't let us take him home until he gained a bit of weight and we could prove that we could feed him. He just did not want to eat. [He] fell asleep during bottles and cried if we kept trying. I had to force him.
“My biggest surprise was how narrow the line between life and death was for this kid. But we kept working it, and now seven months later, he is 70% in weight, [90%] in height, and [99%] in head size. He is my hero. Just remember life will find a way. Trying to find the joy in being parents is hard sometimes, especially when everything is cloaked in so much fear. Do what you got to do and insist that the baby also does. No coddling them when it comes to the work of feeding.
“Be prepared to fight for each and every one of his pounds. Oh, and love them. That may seem like the easy part, but sometimes, you forget. — Voyage_of_Roadkill, reddit
It's not always a life sentence
“I was reading [an] article, and the FAQs at the bottom said ‘Long Term Health Problems of Micro Preemies: Most micro preemies who survive show no long-term ill effects.‘
“I've never heard that from a doctor, and I don't know how accurate their info is, but it would've taken some of the worries off my mind — that even during the worst of it, we still had a shot at our happily ever after … if we could just get through. We've been lucky enough for that to still be true for us two years on, anyway.” — breakingborderline, reddit
Celebrate as you normally would have
“My twins were born at 29 weeks, weighing 2 pounds, 4 ounces. They were so sick when they were born; it was heartbreaking. I discovered that it made me feel better when people treated their birth as the happy occasion that it should have been. So go ahead and have a shower, buy newborn stuff, do birth announcements, and tell people close to you that they can celebrate.
“Spend some of the time you have to yourself since you didn't bring a baby home from the hospital — getting enough sleep and good food and, yes, relaxing. There's no medal for most hours camped out at the NICU bassinet. And collect happy stories. Here's one: despite their rough start, my kids are normal, happy 5-year-olds. The only evidence of their early birth that's left is that one of them is prone to asthma when she gets colds. — msdebacle, reddit
Stay away from the statistics
“My daughter was born at 25 weeks, 1 day gestation, weighing 1 pound, 5 ounces. Stay away from statistics. Each baby's prognosis depends on so many factors: gender, race, birth weight, health of mother, type of birth, problem that caused prematurity, quality of the available medical care, and more. Statistics are meaningless in the face of the individual. My daughter had a 50% chance of survival and an 80% chance of being seriously disabled. …
“She's now 3, and long-term, I don't think she will have any indication of her rocky start. The same little fighter in the incubator is the same little spitfire mouthing off at me now at bedtime. She's here because she's sassy.” — zuggyziggah, reddit
If you had a preemie, what is one piece of advice you wish you had before your baby was born? Share in the comments!