6 Parents Share Their Best Advice to Other Preemie Parents

Image adapted via Flickr/ César Rincón

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.

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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.

 

preemie baby
Image via Flickr/ bradleyolin

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

 

incubator
Image via Flickr/ jdsmith1021

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

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preemie
Image via Flickr/ jdsmith1021

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

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baby
Image via Flickr/ jdsmith1021

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

 

preemie advice-5
Image via Flickr / DFID – UK Department for International Development

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

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dad and preemie
Image via Flickr/ Scott & Justine fromWyo

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 

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If you had a preemie, what is one piece of advice you wish you had before your baby was born? Share in the comments!

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What do you think?

6 Parents Share Their Best Advice to Other Preemie Parents

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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3 comments

  1. Profile photo of Holly Holly says:

    Educate Yourself. You really are the best advocate for your child while they are in the NICU and the best way to be their advocate is to understand what is going on and educate yourself. My son was born at 26 weeks and 5 days at 1lb 13.5 oz. He was in the NICU for 83 days and we had our fill of ups and downs. There were a few instances where I didn’t quite agree with a certain nurse or doctor and the plan of action and if I had not done my research and asked questions I don’t know if I would have made the decisions I did. For example, the doctors were pushing for the 2 month vaccines to all occur on the same day. Had I not done my research and known that we could space them out I would not have requested to do one/day and give a break in between. He ended up not having any issues (fever, fussy, etc) and I am not sure if could say the same thing if we had done them all at once. The doctors and nurses are there fighting for your child as well but you know your child better than they do and not all children can be treated the same. Having the knowledge to make informed decisions is the best thing you can do for your little guy or girl.

  2. Profile photo of Kristina Kristina says:

    I had my daughter 9 weeks early. She spent 6 weeks in the NICU fighting the fight. The best advice I can give to any parent of a preemie is that you need to take care of yourself. I started out going to the hospital everyday around 9-10am and staying until 8-9pm before making the 45 minute drive home. After the first two weeks and all the nurses telling me to take care of myself I started going later. I would get there around 2-3pm and stay until I saw who the night nurse was. Even though I missed seeing her every minute of every day I needed that time to get the sleep I was missing. Get the rest while you can, your babies are in good hands and where they need to be.

  3. Profile photo of Lorinda Lorinda says:

    I had my son 4 weeks early he stayed in nicu til he was 2 weeks old since he been home he is doing real good he is gaining his weight and growing I it was hard for me to leave him at the hospital but now he is just fine

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