Giving birth is such a momentous occasion and your incredible body really is put through its paces! Recovering from giving birth is another thing in itself. You are coming to terms mentally and physically with a huge amount of change. Some new-mums say they feel as if they are in a bit of a surreal, dream-like world. You’ll likely be incredibly tired and your hormones might take you on a bit of a roller coaster of a journey.
Factor in a premature birth and consider that you may not have felt fully prepared mentally, physically or practically when the time to deliver your baby was upon you. Not only will you be experiencing the changes just mentioned but add to this, the possibility that you might also have to come to terms with yours or your baby’s health problems.
Babies born pre-term may have missed some developmental time in the womb and may need to spend time in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). This is because your little one needs an environment that replicates the warm, sterile conditions of your body. They may need help with feeding if sucking reflexes are not strong and some babies will need help breathing. Staff will monitor other needs such as blood pressure and heart rate and this supervision can require high-tech machinery.
As such, it can be distressing for a parent to see their newborn surrounded by lots of noisy equipment and multiple wires but remember, your baby is in the best place, surrounded by a medical team intent on providing the best possible care. Staff share your goal, to get baby strong and healthy enough to go home with you.
As well as medical expertise premature babies also need your love, and staff will be happy to show you how you can become involved in their care and bond with your baby. It might not feel as easy or as natural to build that motherly bond with your baby when they are lying in an incubator. Please don’t worry, this is completely normal and take one day at a time. Emotions will be running high. After all, it takes time to get to know your baby and it can take slightly longer when you don’t immediately have that skin-to-skin contact.
To help, many neonatal units in the UK will provide you with a DVD called Small Wonders which you can watch with your health care professional or alone. You can watch the films online or in the free Baby Buddy app.
37 weeks is considered full term for twins but many are born before this. Although lack of space in the womb may be a contributing factor the placenta(s) struggling to keep up with demand can also be an issue. In singleton and multiple pregnancies cervical, vaginal or urine infections can also play a part. The charity TAMBA (Twins and Multiple Births Association) has a huge range of information, advice and support for families with, or preparing for, multiples.
If you have a higher risk pregnancy and are aware your baby or babies may need a little extra care when born, you might like to visit the Special Care Baby Unit before they arrive. Familiarising yourself with the environment can remove some of your fear.
Speak with staff who, though busy, will be on hand to reassure you.
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