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To make your baby more comfortable, the NICU will try to reduce the amount of sound and light your baby is exposed to. This prevents stress and damage to their hearing and vision. Your baby's medical support team will also provide your baby with a lot of physical support so that they can get in
a comfortable position and remain in it without having to expend any of
their precious energy. The nurses and doctors will also try not to disturb
your baby with too much handling, which can be stressful for your baby. Your voice and your gentle touch, however, are helpful to your baby once
your baby is past the 30 week mark: they will actually promote your baby's growth. Your baby will bring their hands to their face or into their mouth in order to quiet and comfort themselves, and your touch, too, can have
this calming effect.
When your baby outgrows the need for the incubator, you can provide "Kangaroo Care." To do so, wear a loose fitting top or a scrub gown that opens in the front, and your baby, wearing only a diaper and hat, will be placed on your chest between your breasts, with the blouse or gown closed over your baby to hold in the warmth. This skin to skin contact keeps their temperature normal, and your body temperature can actually adjust to serve your baby's. Your baby's breathing, heart rate, and blood oxygen levels will also stabilize. Babies enjoying "Kangaroo Care" gain weight faster, cry less, have fewer breathing problems, and spend less time in the hospital.
Your baby can go home when he or she is:
- able to keep her temperature normal on her own;
- able to breast or bottle feed;
- able to gain weight on breast or bottle feedings; and,
- no longer suffering from breathing problems, a slowing heart rate, or changes in color.
When it is time to leave the NICU, your doctor will give you the information and guidance you need for taking care of your baby at home, and a follow-up visit will be scheduled so the doctor can check in with both you and your baby. Visits to the doctor will be more frequent when your baby is a preemie, and immunizations will begin at two months.
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