How to Provide Care for Ill or Premature Babies

Last updated on September 25th, 2017 at 10:37 am

Neonatal care in hospital

Special care is sometimes provided on the ordinary postnatal ward and sometimes in a specialist newborn (neonatal) area. Having a baby in neonatal care is naturally worrying for parents and every effort should be made to ensure that you receive the information, communication and support that you need. Not all hospitals provide specialist neonatal services, so it may be necessary to transfer your baby to another hospital.

Why babies need special care

Babies can be admitted to neonatal services for a number of reasons:

  • they are born early – one baby in 13 (8 out of 100) is born early, and babies born before 34 weeks may need extra help with breathing, feeding and keeping warm
  • they are very small and have a low birthweight
  • they have an infection
  • their mother has diabetes
  • the delivery was very difficult or they have jaundice
  • they are waiting for, or recovering from, complex surgery

Contact with your baby

The environment of the unit may seem strange and confusing, especially if your baby is in an incubator or on a breathing machine. There may also be tubes and wires attached to their face and body. Ask the nurse to explain what everything is for and to show you how you can be involved in your baby’s care. Once your baby is stable, you will be able to hold him or her. The nurses will show you how to do this and your baby will benefit greatly from physical contact with you.

Feeding

To begin with, your baby may be too small or too sick to feed themselves. You may be asked to express some of your breast milk, which can be given to your baby through a tube. A fine tube is passed through his or her nose or mouth into the stomach. This won’t hurt them.

Breast milk has particular benefits, especially for sick or premature babies, as it is enriched with proteins (notably antibodies), fats and minerals. If your baby is unable to have your breast milk to begin with, it can be frozen and given to them when they are ready.

When you go home, you can express milk for the nurses to give while you are away. There is no need to worry about the quantity or quality of your milk. Some mothers find that providing breast milk makes them feel that they are doing something positive for their baby.

Find out about expressing your breast milk.

Incubators

Babies who are very small are nursed in incubators rather than cots, to keep them warm. You can still have a lot of contact with your baby. Some incubators have open tops, but if your baby’s incubator doesn’t you can put your hands through the holes in the side of the incubator to stroke and touch your baby.

When your baby is stable, the nurses will be able to help you take your baby out of the incubator and show you how to have skin-to-skin contact. You should carefully wash and thoroughly dry your hands before touching your baby. You can talk to your baby as well – this can help both of you.

The charity Bliss has information explaining the equipment on a neonatal unit.

Newborn babies with jaundice

Jaundice in newborn babies is common because their livers are immature. Severely jaundiced babies may be treated with phototherapy (light therapy). The baby is undressed and put under a very bright light, usually with a soft mask over their eyes. The special light helps to break down the chemical that causes jaundice. It may be possible for your baby to have phototherapy by your bed so that you don’t have to be separated.

This treatment may continue for several days, with breaks for feeds, before the jaundice clears up. In some cases, if the jaundice gets worse, an exchange transfusion of blood may be needed (some of your baby’s blood will be removed and replaced with blood from a donor). This is not common. Some babies have jaundice because of liver disease and need different treatment. A blood test that checks for liver disease is done before phototherapy is started.

Find out more about treatment for newborn jaundice.

Babies with jaundice after two weeks

Many babies are jaundiced for up to two weeks following birth. Jaundice can last up to three weeks in premature babies. It is more common in breastfed babies and does no harm. It is not a reason to stop breastfeeding.

It is important to see your doctor if your baby is still jaundiced after two weeks. You should see the doctor within a day or two. This is particularly important if your baby’s poo is chalky white. A blood test will distinguish between “breast milk jaundice”, which will go away by itself, or jaundice that may need urgent treatment.

Babies with disabilities

If your baby is disabled in some way, you will be coping with a lot of different feelings. You will also need to cope with the feelings of others, such as the baby’s father, your relations and friends as they come to terms with the fact that your baby has a disability.

More than anything else at this time, you will need to talk to people about how you feel, as well as about your baby’s health and future.

Your GP* (doctor), a neonatologist (doctor for newborn babies), paediatrician (children’s doctor) or your health visitor can all help you. You can also contact the hospital Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)** or your social services department for information about local organisations that may be able to help. You can contact your social services department in the UK through your local authority (in the UK)**.

The organisations listed here can offer help and advice – many are self-help groups run by parents**:

Talking to other parents with similar experiences can often be the most effective help.

Worries and explanations

Hospital staff should explain what kind of treatment your baby is being given and why. If they don’t, ask them. It’s important that you understand what is happening so that you can work together to make sure that your baby gets the best possible care. Some treatments require your consent to go ahead and the doctors will discuss this with you.

It is natural to feel anxious if your baby needs special care. Talk over any fears or worries with the hospital staff. Hospitals often have their own counselling or support services, and a number of charities run support and advice services.

The consultant neonatologist or paediatrician should arrange to see you, but you can also ask for an appointment at any time if you wish. The hospital social worker may be able to help with practical issues such as travel costs or help with looking after children.

Read more information on serious conditions and special needs in children.

The charity Bliss has information and support for parents of babies being cared for in a neonatal unit. You can find out more at:

healthtalk.org has video interviews and articles on women talking about their experiences of having a baby in special care.

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

** Resources in the United States

  • US Hospitals typically offer similar Patient Liaison services – ask for Patient Relations or Patient Representatives
  • Social Services in the United States can provide information to help with costs and treatments
  • Children with Disabilities: UNICEF
  • Genetic Alliance is the US affiliate of Genetic Alliance UK
  • Note: several of the UK based organizations listed above like Bliss, Group B Strep Support, etc. have extensive websites offering detailed information that will be of assistance to parents worldwide.





Child Health & Safety News 9/18: Ultimate Car Seat Guide

Last updated on September 23rd, 2017 at 06:38 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: How to Help Children in the Aftermath of a Hurricane

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed.  Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 15 events & stories.

  • The New Research that Convinced Me to be a Soccer Mom Dropout bit.ly/2wjIPCp 2017-09-17
  • Blaming parents for tragic accidents isn’t helping anyone bit.ly/2wxJAmA 2017-09-17
  • Caring at home for a child with cancer can leave family members with risky tasks wapo.st/2y6dAHF 2017-09-16
  • Pediatric Safety and Stepmother-hood: New Beginnings zpr.io/nUdpC 2017-09-15
  • Ripe for the Picking: A Great Way to Spend Family Time – Thurs Time Capsule 09/11 bit.ly/2wqB2y7 2017-09-14

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
Ultimate Car Seat Guide bit.ly/2xGXOqn This week is Child Passenger Safety Week- please drive carefully!

  • Codeine and Opioids Not Recommended for Cough Suppression in Kids wb.md/2f2pjTG 2017-09-13
  • Lice & Easy: Clinic to treat head lice opens in Colorado Springs bit.ly/2wnNAWQ 2017-09-13
  • Is drinking any amount of alcohol during pregnancy safe?…uncertainty and potential for harm suggest go without http://bit.ly/2xcTJaj 2017-09-12
  • New rules for child safety in Abu Dhabi school buses bit.ly/2wTGNrt 2017-09-12
  • Child Heart Surgery Patients at Childrens Hospital in New Orleans Treated for Rare Surgical Infection http://bit.ly/2jDp8jf  2017-09-12
  • Getting to and from School: The Real Safety Risk can be on the way to/from and getting on/off the bus http://bit.ly/2xO2rPq 2017-09-12
  • 11 Easy Ways to Make Lunches More Attractive for Kids bit.ly/2eP0B5r 2017-09-11
  • How to Deal with Your Child’s Class II, Division 2 Bite zpr.io/nUGQD 2017-09-11
  • Stephen King’s IT is Sensory Friendly, Tomorrow Night at AMC zpr.io/nUGvC 2017-09-11

How Special Needs Kids Can Avoid the Lunch Box Blues

Last updated on September 23rd, 2017 at 06:37 pm

School is back in session! After the clothes, the supplies and the backpack have been purchased there is one big item left…the lunch box! We want to help our children feel more independent, but sometimes kids with special needs need some special assistance with this portion of their school day. Also, many in this population have very specific dietary needs and wants. Here are some tips for finding containers that will work for your child.

Special note: If your child has a feeding tube, do a search for Facebook groups or ask your child’s team for resources. It’s easy to fall into a rut but there are new ideas and breakthroughs happening every day.

Open and Close

Can your child open AND close the containers you pack? Should the covers be twist tops or snap-ons? Can they open a zippered baggie? Sure, these tasks sound easy but they can be real challenges if you have fine motor issues.

Different brands and styles of containers have different benefits, so do a little spying and trial and error. There is no point in spending an hour prepping a picture perfect bento box if your child is unable to get to it. My child could open the Ziploc divided container but never get it closed again, leading to tragically messy and stained lunchboxes!! This must have been a common problem, since the company has discontinued the item.

This year we are using Snapware, which seems to be working out nicely and doesn’t leak. Victory! But those side latches could be tricky for some kids so do a trial run before sending anything new to school. Hopefully the school has grown ups on hand to assist with these things, but better safe and full than sorry and hungry.

Touch and Go

Some kids with special needs will have a meltdown if their foods touch each other. Others will only eat from their favorite bowl or with their own spoon. This is another reason to be sure to have some trial runs or introduce the containers before school begins or on weekends. A child may need some transition time or a chance to get used to a change in a calm environment rather than under stress in a cafeteria.

Ask and Learn

Ask your kids what kinds of cool containers their friends use. Ask other moms what works best for them. Do a web search. But remember, what works for one child may not work for yours. Borrow containers to try them out or bring your child to the store and have them experiment before investing a lot of money in something that might be useless.

Might Want to Checkout

  • Snapware:  I got a big boxed set at Costco – which as all sizes and one size even has dividers.  Here’s the link to the set at Amazon
  • Sistema (people seem to like it – don’t have the link)
  • Easy Lunchbox: seems like a sturdier version of Ziploc
  • Planet Lunchbox:  some people say the latches are easy, but I haven’t tried them

Happy packing!

Pediatric Safety and Stepmother-hood: New Beginnings

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 11:52 am

Hello dear readers. I am Clara Ember and I am the new Junior Editor for Pediatric Safety. I am a newlywed at 28 and in addition to gaining the companionship of a handsome and intelligent young man, I also found myself suddenly in the role of stepmother to a seven-year-old boy. As someone who never planned on having children of her own, the change was a significant one. I have always liked children and I am aunt to three beautiful little ones, all of whom I love dearly, but see rarely.

I put a lot of thought into motherhood before marrying my husband. His son does not live with us, (he stays with his grandparents) but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t going to have a significant part in his life. The first few times I met him I was a nervous wreck. What happened if he didn’t like me, or if I didn’t like him? What if I was just terrible at being a responsible adult and ended up being a bad influence on him? What was I supposed to talk to him about?

When he first met me, he called me by my husband’s ex’s name. Over and over and over again. Awkward right? As it turns out, five-year-olds don’t understand breakups and to him, I looked like her. I was a short girl with short hair, that’s the same right? I was so shy that I had no idea how to handle it, so I just stayed very quiet.

Then we went hiking around my husband’s parents property. We had been hiking for about 20min when we came to a pile of logs we had to climb over. He jumped on top of them and turned around with sparkling brown eyes and held out his hand. “Here Clara!” he said, “Let me help you.” My heart melted and with it, went all of my fears about how being in his life would play out. Suddenly it didn’t matter that I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, I would simply love him the best I could and figure out the rest.

He’s too young to really understand what my role in my life is now that I’m married to his father. He sees me as a friend, someone to play transformers and trains with, someone to cuddle. Truthfully, I’m just figuring it out as I go, but what a beautiful journey it is…

I am amazed by parenting, by the balance it requires and the subtle (and not subtle) guidance required to direct and teach a little human. One must be firm and gentle, challenging and comforting, and constantly engaged.

But I’m not telling you guys anything you don’t already know. You are more than aware of the hardships and beautiful moments of having a child and I salute you for all of the work you are putting into it. That being said, if you more experienced parents have any advice you’d like to pass along to a new stepmom, I would love to hear it! Mostly we play outside and build things with legos, but I would like to start teaching him more and building a more solid relationship with him. I want to be a mentor as well as a friend, but I know that’s something you can’t force.

I am really looking forward to working with our authors and staff to continue to bring you intelligent and useful content to help you all on your parenting journeys. After all, it takes a village.

And if you have any questions you would like to ask me, my inbox is always open and I will respond as quickly and honestly as I can. Have a wonderful weekend!

Video: Common Questions About Kids and Chickenpox

Last updated on September 18th, 2017 at 03:20 pm

Chickenpox is a common childhood illness. But what steps should you take to look after someone who catches it? In this video Dr Rishi Duggal explains what to do if you or your children get chickenpox, and when to get urgent medical advice.

Editor’s Note: Video Highlights

The main symptom is the rash – it can occur in 3 main stages:

  • Stage 1: red spots on face or chest
  • Stage 2: after a couple of hours to a day, spots spread to other parts of body – spots can form fluid filled blisters, very itchy
  • Stage 3: these form scabs or crust – can take several weeks to fall off

How to treat it?

  • Can manage pain with paracetamol (*acetaminophen)
    • Avoid ibuprofen with chickenpox as some may have bad reactions to this
  • Calamine lotions and cremes/gels can help soothe the skin
  • Make sure you’re well hydrated
  • Keep your child out of school and if it’s you, stay away from work

How do you catch it?

  • Chickenpox is HIGHLY contagious – really easy to spread:
    • Through droplets infected person has breathed, sneezed or coughed out
    • Through contact with fluid from blisters
    • Even being in same room with someone for 15 mins who has chicken pox

When to get help

  • Contact your GP (*doctor) or NHS 111 if:
    • You’re not sure if you or your child has it
    • Your baby is less than 4 weeks old and has it
    • If you’re pregnant or have a weakened immune system
    • If your symptoms aren’t improving after a week
  • In rare situations your skin can become red or swollen and even more rare, you can find it difficult to breathe.  Seek urgent advice.

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.





Child Health & Safety News 9/11: Infant Feeding Essentials Guide

Last updated on September 20th, 2017 at 06:02 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: Study of Pittsburgh-Area Schoolkids Reveals “Alarming” Rates of Uncontrolled Asthma bit.ly/2wfPCsh

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed.  Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 15 events & stories.

  • CHIP: Congress Must Stop Playing politics with our Children’s Healthcare – Children’s Defense Fund bit.ly/2wTIrtm 2017-09-10
  • 15 Signs You’re Too Strict With Your Child bit.ly/2eUoRXz 2017-09-10
  • Chronic health conditions prevalent among childhood cancer survivors – 99% experience an average of 17 conditions by 50 years old bit.ly/2xk3s1x 2017-09-09
  • Have Kids That Struggle With Anxiety? These 4 Strategies Will Help – TodaysMama bit.ly/2eIhkY6 2017-09-08
  • EMS Guide to Hurricane Preparation 2017: Keep Your Family Safe! zpr.io/PQLRG 2017-09-08

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
National Nutrition Week 2017: A Quick Guide to Infant Feeding Essentials bit.ly/2eXchUn

  • See a Sensory Friendly Screening of LEAP Tomorrow at AMC zpr.io/PQLPV 2017-09-08
  • What bolsters families, communities & the economy? Preschool – why it’s such an important year bit.ly/2w977tS 2017-09-07
  • Our Miracle Baby: Aidan’s Story of Surviving CDH – Thurs Time Capsule 07/11 bit.ly/2vhSgOp 2017-09-07
  • 21 Million People Have Watched This Dad Brilliantly End A Public Tantrum bit.ly/2w8UOxL It’ll make you smile 🙂 2017-09-07
  • Parents lack of confidence in GPs for kids’ health in Melbourne is leading to overcrowding ERs bit.ly/2gAfvx5 2017-09-06
  • Depression Ruins Lives – What If My Child Has It? zpr.io/PQmWh 2017-09-06
  • Cure Kids’ Red Nose Day appeal launched to find treatments for NZ kids with serious health conditions bit.ly/2eXI7Ar 2017-09-05
  • When Can Your Child Walk to School Alone? bit.ly/2ewF41t 2017-09-04
  • Back-to-School Medical Exams: Parents, What You Need To Know zpr.io/PQ7yu 2017-09-04