What happens after a premature birth?
Premature birth can occur if a premature rupture of the bladder or labour pains occur before the 29th week of pregnancy. Initially, an attempt is made to delay the birth of the child further by means of medication. However, if, for example, the placenta is diseased or the amniotic fluid is colonised with bacteria, the foetus cannot develop quickly enough and premature birth is often unavoidable in these cases.
In Germany, pregnant women are very well medically monitored, so that inconsistencies towards the end of the pregnancy are usually noticed and can be treated in time.
After premature birth, the baby is classified into different categories according to its birth weight. Premature babies weighing less than 1,500g are considered risk patients and must be treated with intensive care. In contrast to conventional maternity wards, so-called perinatal centres have the necessary equipment to treat these small creatures.
Often premature babies are not yet able to breathe or drink independently. They are also not yet able to maintain their own body temperature. For this reason, premature babies are placed in an incubator. There the baby is then fed through a stomach tube or infusion. The little creatures are usually not yet able to digest breast milk and are initially fed with a mixture of sugar and water. However, the breast milk of a woman who has had a premature birth is particularly nourishing and supportive for the further development of the baby.
The incubator mentioned above is a box made of Plexiglas with holes on the sides through which one can reach inside. This box filters the air inside and enriches it with oxygen and moisture. The incubator keeps the baby's body heat constantly at 37 degrees Celsius.
Through small tubes on the mouth, nose, head and arms, the premature baby is not only given artificial respiration, but is also given additional medication to fight bacteria. If the baby suffers from jaundice or if the liver is not yet properly developed, the baby is additionally irradiated with blue light.
Although an incubator is used to imitate the climate of the womb, it cannot be equated with this. Newborn babies are exposed to great stress, as any treatment, light or noise influences cause great stress for the baby.
The parents also often feel helpless and overstrained in this phase. Regular physical contact between parents and child is crucial for the development and is supported by most clinics.
Often used is the "Kangaroo Method", where the baby is placed on the mother's or father's naked breast several times a day, dressed only in diapers. This intensive contact gives the child a feeling of security and trust towards its parents.
Once the treatment in a perinatal centre has been completed, parents can also take advantage of further support at home. A paediatric nurse or midwife is a useful support during the first days at home and can give helpful tips on how to deal with the newborn child.
In addition, domestic help can be claimed. If the premature birth is medically certified, this is also paid for by the health insurance company. The Maternity Protection Act also provides for a longer leave of absence for mothers of premature babies if a medical certificate is available.
The exchange with other mothers of premature babies in self-help groups or internet forums is also a good way to learn from the experiences of others.
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