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Born Early: What Does That Mean

smcternan March 12th, 2012, 12:03 PM
Sandra McTernan, MSN, Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist
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VNSNY_MNP_2010_286_022_jpgNew babies and growing families is one of the fun parts to my job. I have worked in Pediatrics for25 years and have always found  great pleasure in teaching a new family how to safely care for that newborn. But something unusual is happening, more and more today. These bundles of joy are arriving earlier and earlier.

Why? Good question.

We know that babies born even as little as two weeks early are more likely to have history of respiratory illnesses and problems adjusting to this world. The simple act of feeding them effectively and safely becomes a real challenge.

Let me give you an example of a 34 week premature baby boy referred to our Maternal Newborn Pediatric program with a feeding and poor weight gain history. The first time mom was young but trying her best to manage her infant son. It is a challenge when a baby refuses to eat even for the most experienced parent. Working with mom and baby after hospital discharge requires, patience, teaching, demonstrating, weighing and then even more patience. Then, with the spring-like weather, mom is out enjoying the weather and not at home when we come to visit.  The MD is called and the new mom is encouraged to comply. And she tries, but the baby is not gaining weight. Now what?

The reality is that to truly learn from and be able to implement all that is taught takes time. Sometimes more time than we have to visit with the family. Working closely with the pediatrician and encouraging 100% compliance with MD visits will help but the mom and family have to own it. With parenting comes responsibility— the support of family is key. Working together to benefit the infant, toward a common goal: a healthy infant.

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