When a baby is born before the end of the 37th week of a pregnancy, he or she is called premature. Premature babies can range from those who are very tiny, weighing just over one pound, to very large babies who look almost like a full-term baby and weigh six pounds. Prematurity is a common problem in the United States, with about one out of eight babies being born too early. Even if you have done everything right during your pregnancy, you may still have a premature baby.
When a baby is born early, different parts of his or her body will not function properly, even though they are all well formed. The most common organ systems that require assistance are the lungs and the digestive system. The earlier in the pregnancy that the baby is born, the more likely these problems will occur. Take comfort in knowing that your baby will be attended to by neonatal experts who have dedicated their careers to trying to help these tiny newborns. We will work together with you to provide the care that your baby needs. Our goal is to help get your child home as soon and as safely as possible.
We understand that your (and your family’s) emotional health may need a little support too. Having a premature baby and then receiving care in an intensive care unit is stressful. We offer support during your infant’s stay through our neonatal staff members, the March of Dimes NICU Family Support® program, and the Parent-to-Parent Partnership.
Treatments for Premature Birth
Premature babies can have a wide variety of health challenges, but the three most common problems are temperature regulation, breathing difficulties and feeding problems.
For babies born before 27 weeks (micro preemies) we have a small baby unit designed just for them. This provides a soothing, low-light environment with minimal noise and uniquely trained staff.
Our treatment approach includes your family in your baby’s care. You are a vital part of your child’s ability to heal and to thrive. You will learn a lot of new information and gain a great deal of confidence about caring for your tiny new baby. Our NICU team will be right there with you during this process, working toward the day that your baby will be strong enough and well enough to go home.
Breathing Treatments for Premature Babies
Premature babies may have breathing problems because their lungs are not fully developed. We offer steroid shots to pregnant mothers who are likely to deliver early, to help with lung development. We also offer breathing support and treatment to premature babies after birth.
Feeding Assistance for Premature Babies
Babies born before 35 to 37 weeks may have problems swallowing. We provide feeding assistance and lactation consultants to make sure your baby's learning to swallow doesn't stop them from receiving plenty of nutrition to help them grow.
Temperature Regulation for Premature Babies
Preterm babies have a great deal of trouble maintaining their own body temperature. To assist with this, we will often keep them in a device called an incubator, which provides a heated, humidified environment until they’re better able to regulate their temperature.