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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When to take preemie home

The staff can judge that your preemie is well enough to leave the hospital and that you will be able to care for them. It is very important that you feel it is the right time to bring your baby home too.

Considerations for preemie to go home

Medical staff will consider a number of factors when deciding when the right time is for your preemie to go home, some of those are;

  • if they are able to control their temperature
  • Loss of self‐esteem and confidence
  • how well they are feeding
  • can they be cared for outside of the NICU without constant professional support
  • are they putting on weight

Note: Some preemies will be able to go home even if they have require certain specialist attention, such as oxygen for breathing issues but this will happen only once you have enough information, follow-up support is arranged, and you are confident enough to undertake the relevant duties.

Do we have to wait until my baby’s due date before coming home?

This can be a good guide as to when your preemie will come home.

Even better, some babies, if they are feeding well, gaining weight and have no other problems may actually go home before their original due date.

Some preemie babies may have to stay in hospital longer than their due date if they require help with feeding, breathing or have other complications.

What if they are still on medication or are very small?

The medical staff have a responsibility to you and your baby, so they will only tell you it’s safe to go home when they judge that you and your preemie are ready.

Some medical issues require ongoing care but staff will only send you home if they are confident you will cope with those aspects of care at home.

Before you leave the hospital staff will give you the information you need to care for your baby, such as why certain medication is needed, how to give it, and what any side effects may be.

If you are breastfeeding, it is common for medical staff to prescribe vitamin and iron supplements.

For preterm babies that are still very small, they will continue to be closely monitored by a specialist nurse, hospital consultant, and/or a dietician.

For preterm babies with ongoing feeding problems, the neonatal staff will refer you to a feeding specialist.



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

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Preemie Help is also looking to provide a resource for any professionals that have contact with preterm babies and children in order to help them best understand the challenges that face a preemie. Get in contact to help us impact preemies.

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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