To write about the emotions of having a prem baby would take a while. I could write one on shock alone, not to mention being scared, terrified, exhausted, frustrated…you get the picture. So, I thought I’d make this a tad more practical in the hope that if there is anyone reading this that has a new prem baby, it might go some way to helping decide what would be most helpful.
My baby boy was born at 33 weeks gestation and was a massive shock to us both. I’d had a very normal pregnancy with no signs that I would have a premature baby. The docs said there was no rhyme or reason for it, it was just nature’s way. It was all very difficult to understand. To give you a better idea of how shocking the whole experience was I gave birth naturally, my baby was an undiagnosed breech, and it all happened in under 3 hours. Yeeouch!
The moments after I’d given birth were the most difficult of my life. They whisked my baby away to work on him and I got wheeled back to a side room. Thankfully, aside from being very early, my beautiful baby boy was very healthy. He was breathing on his own and needed no other medical attention, other than needing to be incubated for the remainder of the pregnancy. This meant spending the next seven weeks in a neonatal unit (intensive care, then special care baby unit).
Immediately after I’d had my baby, a nurse was telling me I had to ‘express’. I had no idea what this meant (we didn’t get to an antenatal class!), but decided I’d had quite enough for one day and would deal with it in the morning. The morning came and during the first few minutes with my new baby, a nurse taught me how to express milk from my breasts. WOW. I was still in total shock and now this stuff was coming out of my boobs!
Anyway, to cut it a little short, I started expressing – that was to be my entire job over the next seven weeks. Express, express, express. My baby needed all my first milk (colostrum) to give him the vitamins and nutrients he would otherwise have got from the final weeks of my pregnancy, so it was really important and I felt a lot of pressure. The pumps at the hospital were brilliant, but I needed one for home too. I was very lucky in that my milk supply was plentiful so expressing wasn’t a problem for me. I wasn’t staying at the hospital, but I still needed to express every 3 hours (around the clock) to keep up my milk supply. I quickly bought a Medela Swing Breast Pump. Medela was the brand they used in the hospital so I figured I’d stick with that. And how right I was. It was brilliant. It also came with pump & save storage bags so I could freeze my milk as I was producing it.
After seven loooong weeks, we were finally able to bring our new baby home. What a day! I was still expressing because I was very keen to eventually breastfeed, so that breast pump became invaluable. Oh, and I mustn’t forget to mention breast pads! I found Lansinoh nursing pads to be the best ones – they saved me from many embarrassing leaky moments.
Having the baby at home meant I needed all the usual essential stuff like a Moses basket, baby bath, clothes, etc, but the things I really found useful were tips I got from other mothers. My Mobi Wrap Sling was the thing to save me from hours and hours of constant crying. You can keep your baby close to you all the time while having your hands free to do stuff – very useful! The Fisher Price Playtime Bouncer was also genius for keeping the little one occupied, and great for bouncing him to sleep. I bought a couple of Grobag sleeping bags , very cool and saves you from re-tucking them in if they kick the blankets off. It’s also a bit safer because there is no risk of suffocation.
Another thing about having a preemie is the chances of them having reflux is quite high. Their little tummies are underdeveloped which means they find it hard to keep their milk down. My little boy had very bad reflux, and still now throws up most of the time. We have many many many Muslins . We literally can’t live without them.
We had to carry on giving him vitamins when we got home from hospital (as well as reflux medicine) so oral syringes were a must-have item too. The hospital gave us disposable ones when we left, but reusable ones are much better. Oral syringes are the best way to make sure he gets all the medicine, otherwise it becomes a very messy business. They are great for giving Calpol too!
The final item I cannot live without are my pram clips. I have a Bugaboo Bee and despite them being the coolest buggy’s in town (in my opinion!), they aren’t great for storage. These clips are great for shopping bags or your own bag – I’ve not carried anything in months!
I’m sure there will be another ‘can’t live without’ list when he gets a bit bigger, but for now, these items have kept me sane and organised and I have one happy baby who is thriving day by day.