30 Oct 2017 | 4 min Read
Author | 6 Articles
A baby born before 37 weeks of gestation is considered a preterm or premature baby. Health conditions in the mother such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, etc, may contribute to preterm labor resulting in premature birth.
In preemies, swallowing is unachieved and this puts them at disadvantage since they do not have a completely developed oral cavity and required oral motor skills and reflexes.
Acquiring oral feeding is the primary focus of early Intervention. Management begins with establishing suckling and sucking. Feeding ability is achieved when overall stability in the environment is provided to them. Stability also begins from the caregiver – the way in which they are available and receptive to the needs of the babies.
It has been observed that preemies are unable to achieve milestones as per norms due to reluctance in caregiver support.
It is not about forcing calories, rather it is about achieving voluntary consumption of food and understanding satiation.
Transition of a premature baby who has been on tube feeds to oral feeding needs extra efforts. Since, they do not get any opportunity to develop oral – motor skills, it is even more difficult for them to understand the feeling of hunger and/satiation at such an early stage. A good schedule should be established between feeds so that balance is achieved between empty and full stomach.
Pre-verbal communication in preemies is underdeveloped. Observe and respond to their cues and take steps to support and stimulate them.
Remember that they may be slow in responding to your cues. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t receptive to it. Be patient and give them the care they need and deserve.
If you have any questions about care for premature babies, post your questions in comments.
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