As a mother, you may have done everything right and may have taken all possible precautions to see that your baby arrived on time and in the best of health. But there are so many factors that influence premature labor and delivery; many that we don’t yet understand that most of them are beyond the control of the mother or even her attending healthcare professionals.
A baby could be born early and therefore may not have completed its intrauterine growth or there could be problems that restricted proper growth in the womb that could be responsible for low birth weight. So what is a mother to do when she gives birth to a low birth weight infant? Here are some pointers for care of a low birth weight baby:
What is a low birth weight baby?
A normal weight baby is 7.6 pounds or about 3.5 kilos at birth. A low birth weight baby is one who weighs less than 2500 grams at birth. Multiples (twins or more than two babies per birth) are more likely to be low birth weight babies.
How should you care for a low birth weight baby?
Firstly, breastfeed, so that the baby finds it easier to digest what he or she eats. If the baby finds it difficult to suck from the breast, express the milk and spoon feed or feed with a dropper (consult the doctor about the best way to go about this).
Consider supplementation. The doctor is the best person to advice on what supplementation is required for a low birth weight baby. Also ask if any special immunization schedule is required to be followed.
Keep the baby close at all times, and make sure that he or she never gets cold. Low birth weight babies may not be able to regulate body temperature efficiently and are seen to benefit greatly from kangaroo care or skin to skin contact between mother and baby. Co-sleeping is a very good idea with low birth weight babies not only so that body heat of the parent can be obtained but so that a parent can closely monitor the baby.
Try and restrict the baby’s exposure to too many other people because of the possible germs they may carry or infections that they may have and pass on to the baby.
If the baby seems unwell, lethargic, has a fever or seems weak contact a doctor immediately.
Follow doctor’s instructions and religiously follow up with visits to the doctor, pediatrician, and neonatologist when advised.