In the Hospital - a quick look

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For some parents of preemie babies, the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU for short) becomes a home away from home while they wait for their preemie baby to get strong enough to leave.


The NICU is where your preemie baby will get lots of help.

It can be noisy, confronting, and stressful. Learning a little about the equipment, what health professionals are doing, and some of the medical jargon can help parents of preemie babies feel more confident and less overwhelmed.
Preemie help is here to make sense of it all.


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Checklist: Preparing to Take Preemie Home

Being prepared to take you preemie home can be very important as you may not have instant access to the doctors and nurses of the NICU. Make sure you understand instructions and plan important tasks.

Equipment Use

  • Make sure you understand how to undertake any procedures or use any equipment that your preemie needs at home.
  • Practice before you leave and have a staff member check while you use the equipment or administer any treatments so be sure you are doing it correctly.
  • Be clear about any medications your preemie needs, make sure you know how to give these medications, what they are for, and any side effects they may have

Plan for Follow-up Appointments

Depending on your preemie baby’s needs you may need to follow-up with a number of health care providers, some common ones include;

  • Your premmies paediatrician
  • Home care nurse
  • Ophthalmologist (doctor for the eyes)
  • Audiologist (hearing specialist)

Your preemie in the car seat

Before being sent home, some hospitals may ask you to bring in your baby car seat. This is done so preemie can be placed in the car seat while connected to monitors to take heart and breathing rates, to work out if your baby can cope with being in the car seat.

If they are unable to cope, you may need to get a special care seat restraint – ask the hospital staff for details.

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Protection from Infection

Since preemies were born before their bodies were mature enough, they can still be vulnerable to infection, especially respiratory infections, such as Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

Important things to do to prevent infection;

  • Ensure everyone who touches or holds your preemie, ALWAYS washes their hands thoroughly beforehand
  • People who are ill or even feel they might be getting unwell should not come in contact with your preemie.
  • Avoid taking your preemie to public places, such as shopping centres, day care centres, grocery, and restaurants
  • Never allow smoking near your preemie
  • Ask your paediatrician about a vaccine for RSV

Give any equipment a test run

  • Some preemies who have apnea of prematurity will need an apnea monitor, which alerts you if baby stops breathing while asleep (gentle stroking on the face, arms, or legs, will stimulate your prem to breathe)
  • Some preemies need oxygen; usually the respiratory therapist will discuss the administration with you

Learn Infant CPR

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) classes are often available for parents of preemies at the hospital, ask your nursing staff if you’re interested.

Get Advice on Safe Sleeping Position

The National Institute of Child Health and Development recommends that all babies sleep on their back, unless another position is recommended by your preemie's health care provider.

In the NICU staff may have had your preemie sleeping on their tummy but they were under constant supervision and it is not recommended once at home. Sleeping on their backs prevents accidental suffocation, often called SIDS. Remove unused blankets, clothing, and toys.

Keep a Journal

It can be valuable to you as well as your paediatrician to keep a record of milestones accomplished, no matter how small, as well as any health concerns, or any little tid bit you think is important or interesting.

Ask Questions

If you’re concerned about anything there are a number of 24 help lines, or hospital often have nurses on call for advice over the phone, or make an appointment to see your paediatrician.



AlbertEinstein_iconOne of the greatest minds in history, Albert Einstein was born preterm.

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Preemie, Premmie, or Prem?

Most babies spend between 38 and 42 weeks in their mother’s uterus. So, technically a preterm birth, preemie, premmie, or prem, is an infant who is born less than 37 completed gestational weeks. 

Read More: Defining Preterm birth



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