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Premature birth - what to expect

(18 Posts)
Itscurtainsforyou Sat 22-Aug-15 19:41:37

I wasn't sure if this was the right place or not, but here goes:
I'm currently in hospital with threatened early labour. I'm nearly 24 weeks and not sure how much longer I'm going to be able to carry for.
I'm hoping that my baby is born alive and will go into nicu, but I have no idea if what to expect. The nicu staff have been for a chat to tell me they'll do all they can, but I have no clue about the details, things like:
- will I be taken to the post natal ward with other mums and their babies?
- how long will I be able to stay in with my baby?
- if I'm still an in-patient will they let me stay with the baby for long periods?
- what kind of age will he be when I'm allowed to hold him?
- what if I don't produce milk to feed him?

If anyone has any experience or advice I'd really appreciate it.

KatyN Sat 22-Aug-15 20:16:39

Hiya. My son went into nicu at birth. He had a collapsed lung and was full term but I can answer your questions from my experience, hopefully.
I was given a private room. When I expressed thanks to the mw she said it would be cruel to put me in a room with babies if I didn't have mine. Maybe if there are a lot of mums without babies, they might put you together in a ward. I would not expect to be in a 'normal' post natal ward.
While I was in hospital I could sit next to my baby's incubator 24hrs a day if I wanted to. I would have to move when they did observations or stuff. As soon as he was stable I was encouraged to change his nappy and dress him etc.
We were slightly different because my son was moved to another hospital and we were given a parents room, we stayed there for a week. The parents of local babies who were prem went home to sleep but then came back as much as they wanted. One friend came in 9-5 every day but she had a toddler at home. I think when your baby is ready to go home you may be invited to come back into hospital for a few nights to prepare yourself for having a baby.
Finally, I think the general rule with a prem baby is they will be in hospital (bit nicu but still monitored closely) until they get to their due date. If you get home earlier you are lucky, but don't expect it.
I hope that was all your questions. I do hope your little one can hang in there a bit longer. Do pm me if you have more questions..
Good luck, kxxxx

KatyN Sat 22-Aug-15 20:18:23

One final thing, bliss is the charity for babies born 'too soon, too small too sick' and were fabulous support for us when we were in nicu. They have a fabulous website and shout be able to answer your questions kx

Itscurtainsforyou Sat 22-Aug-15 20:23:25

Thank you, that's really helpful. I shall look up bliss right now.

seastargirl Sat 22-Aug-15 20:53:44

Hi, my daughter was in nicu, I was kept in hospital for 9 days, but that was due to me needing transfusions, they said that normally I would go home at 5 days. I was in a bay with mum's and babies, I tried to make this into a positive by expressing milk when their babies were crying in the hope that it may help let down.

You should get someone to see you who will show you how to hand express, you will get excited about producing half a ml and then get disheartened that you feel like you're not producing enough, but keep persevering as your milk supply should build up, once you're able to produce a few mls they should provide you with a pump so that you can use that to express.

You are normally encouraged to be with the baby as much as possible and complete their cares yourself. This can be at a detriment to your own treatment, so try to remain aware of when you're due medication etc so that you can go back to your ward and prompt the midwife.

With regards to when you'll be allowed to hold them, unfortunately no one will really be able to tell you that as it depends on the health of your baby, just keep asking the nurses as I tsometimrschild they can be so busy that they forget you are desperately waiting to hold your child.

You are normally allowed to put a teddy in the incubator and I took in my own baby blankets to put over the incubator to make it feel more like my space.

I really hope that your baby hangs on in there a lot longer and that all goes ok.

Please be aware, that whatever happens you're allowed to be upset and angry that you haven't had the birth experience that you would have wanted.

seastargirl Sat 22-Aug-15 20:54:36

I also second bliss they were an amazing support for me and I now volunteer for them

Dildals Sat 22-Aug-15 22:08:53

Mine was born at 29 weeks so quite a bit ahead of yours.

I was given a private room on the antenatal ward so I wouldn't be confronted with mums with babies. I was able to visit my baby at any time, apart from when it was doctors rounds, which was twice a day. I live close the hospital so I was able to go home and come back. I stayed in hospital for five days and they were happy to keep me in longer, so I could be close to her, after 5 days though I really wanted to go home, both me and my husband started to smell of hospital if you know what I mean.

Shortly after birth you will be shown to hand express to catch the few drops of colostrum you will be producing. Quickly after you will be introduced to the joys of expressing. You will be expressing every 3-4 hours. Don't worry if you occasionally miss a night express … your sleep and mental health is important too. You are going to be in there for the long haul …

The neonatal doctors are the most cautious kind I have ever encountered they will not tell you 'everything is going to be alright' until they're 100% certain it will be, so take this in to account when they sit on the fence when you ask them when baby can go home. My baby went home at 36 weeks gestation, but she had no complications to speak of, she was only on oxygen for 24 hrs or so, a bit of CPAP after and was soon breathing on her own (those steroids make a world of difference). The default going home date is the official due date, so I would aim for that, provided your baby is well enough of course.

I was able to hold my baby the day of the birth (late in the evening, she was born early in the morning), wrapped in about 6,000 towels. The second day in NICU I was able to do kangaroo care with her (skin to skin). Depending on how early your baby is born and how he/she is doing this may take a bit longer. Regardless of this, it makes all the difference sitting next to him. Take a few books in and read to him, sing him songs (I know you feel silly doing it, but don't!), I also had some 'baby mozart' on a small mp3 player that I put in her cot (she listened again to it the other day, she's 2 now, and I could see that she was intrigued by it, funny.), hold his hand, rest your hand on his head and tummy (if you're allowed, sometimes their skin is so sensitive that touch is painful to them). Think about what is important to you, for example, one day I turned up and found out that the nurse had put a vest on her, she had never worn any clothes before that, I was incredibly upset about that, because I had missed out on so many firsts, I really wanted to be the first one to dress her. So make sure you tell the nurses you want to be the one to do that, make sure it's in the baby notes. Like the previous poster said we also were allowed to bring in a small teddy and we took our own blankets, clothes and muslins. I also found that I was still scared to pick her up from her open cot when she graduated to SCBU because I was so used to all the wires and lines. Make sure that you treat your baby as your baby as soon as you can, insist on kangaroo care as often as you can/are allowed, pick him up as much as you can/want as soon as he's in his open cot, they love being close to you.

NICU is an emotional black hole, it sucks all normality and energy out of you. On the other hand there is massive support from all the other mums there. The expressing room doubles as a therapy room and for that period of time you are there you will make invaluable friendships, which won't last outside NICU, but incredibly important inside NICU. Make sure you have time away from NICU as well, make time for 'normality' with your husband. I used to meet my husband at the pub after his work and me coming back from the hospital for a drink and a natter - possibly not the healthiest way to unwind, but it worked for us ;-). We also watched a lot of mindless telly, I can recommend 'Benidorm' :-).

Good luck and I really hope he's going to stay in a bit longer!

absolutelynotfabulous Sat 22-Aug-15 22:17:46

Mine was born at 29 weeks. I was put into a private room (following an emergency CSection), so as to avoid other mothers. I was there for 9 days.

DD was in Scbu for 7 weeks (I think) until she reached a decent weight. I visited her every day once I was out of hospital, to change her nappy and feed her once she was ready. The staff were amazing-really kind. It was my first experience of being in hospital.

I hope everything turns out well for youflowers

Noeuf Sat 22-Aug-15 22:26:32

I think policies must vary. I was on a ward with mothers and babies and nosy grannies who were very loud in wondering why I didn't have a baby with me. Couldn't see dc until dh came in because there was no one to help me in a wheelchair. Baby had formula because no one told me to express/showed me where anything was.

TheGirlAtTheRockShow Sun 23-Aug-15 03:57:22

My DD was born a lot later, at 35 weeks. She was in NICU 2 weeks, until she was maintains own temperature, feeding and gaining weight.
I was in hospital 5 days and spent 90% of my time in NICU. Nurses would call me back to post natal ward for meds and obs. I did miss out on meals a few times, so DH brought in takeaway for me. I was in a private room on the ward, but found it hard even being able to hear other babies! I can't imagine how hard it must be to be on a ward with other mums. Sorry to those who had that.
Once I was home I'd go to the hospital first thing, and leave in the evening. The hardest thing in all of it was going home the first time without my baby. Before we could bring DD home, I spent 2 nights in a room on NICU with her.
Hoping for the best possible outcome for you and your little one!

eurochick Sun 23-Aug-15 04:53:21

I was in a similar situation - baby delivered 6 weeks early, horrible section, limited interest in breast. I had a little success with nipple shields but not much. Eventually I gave up trying and just expressed. By chance she latched on and fed when I was cuddling her, at five months old, just before I went back to work. I carried on expressing as we needed her to take a bottle. So she did eventually latch. Good luck. I know this is a tough journey. X

eurochick Sun 23-Aug-15 04:54:24

Sorry - wrong premmie thread!

absolutelynotfabulous Sun 23-Aug-15 07:02:30

Another nice touch for me was being able to look after dd for a night as a "trial" before taking her home. She was due to be born in late March and was ready to go home at the end of Feb.

Another thing that caught me out: she was born so unexpectedly that I had literally nothing ready. I woke up in bed after the CS wearing nothing but a pad between my legs...blush.

Itscurtainsforyou Sun 23-Aug-15 10:17:26

Thanks all. I've been transferred to a specialist prem (23w onwards) hospital and nicu staff are coming to chat to me soon. Am terrified, so all info/good experiences are much appreciated.

absolutelynotfabulous Sun 23-Aug-15 12:44:29

Wishing you all the best,

Dildals Sun 23-Aug-15 13:42:01

That's awful noeuf ...

In my hospital there was the option of donor milk too.

daisydalrymple Sun 23-Aug-15 13:51:28

Very best wishes to you and your baby op it's good you've been transferred to the best possible place. You will have very specialist care now. Do keep us posted xx

seaweed123 Wed 26-Aug-15 08:14:57

Best wishes for you and your baby, op.

I don't want to add another negative experience, but I was also on a mum and baby ward, and discharged after 3 days despite living an hour away.

On the positive side, I could visit 24 hours per day. My advice is to be demanding, otherwise you will be ignored. So ask for all the help you can get with expressing. And don't let them keep you waiting for ages for meds you missed when you get back to your bed.

If the hospital is far from your home, maybe get someone to research serviced apartments or hotels near the hospital, if they don't have parents accommodation, in case you can't stand the thought of going home straight away. Also, practically, hospital breast pumps are way better than hand pumps, so worth renting one if poss.

Hope it all goes well.

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