Comforting Your Preemie
It has been a long journey waiting, watching, and wondering, what can I do to make my precious preemie know and feel my love. It was a miracle that brought us to this very point in our lives. Everyone in this Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) wonders about the same concerns. We (meaning my husband and I) feel the need, as most parents do, to hold, cuddle and care for our newborn. There is a greater need to understand and have patience with each day that goes by. With the help of the staff in the NICU, we were able to comfort our preemie in ways that we hadn't considered as a comfort.
This is a no-touch method of "massage" that uses the natural healing energy from a parent's hand roughly 2-4 inches or so away from the baby's body. Therapeutic touch can often be used for babies who are too fragile or unwell to be massaged, even very lightly, in the usual way. Look at your baby and focus all your attention on him. In therapeutic touch you are sending your baby your love with your eyes. You can send your baby love through your hands or fingers by holding one of your hands, palm down, about 2-4 inches above your baby's head, and the other a similar distance from his feet.
Therapeutic touch (sometimes call healing touch) may sound a bit strange, but it is well accepted by many nurses and has become more accepted at medical centers in the U.S. and Canada.
The Sound of Your Voice
The sound of your voice is important to your newborn. Whether you are speaking softly or singing a soft melody it is one way to comfort your baby. You may also tape record your voice with soft music in the background. (Ask the NICU staff if this is something they will allow you to do.) The recording must be monitored as not to disturb your baby if the recording is being played over and over.
The youngest of preemies recognizes their mother's smell. Take a small cloth and keep it tucked against your body for a while, perhaps overnight. Keep the cloth against you while you're in the NICU and during the time you are able to hold your baby. When you go home leave the cloth behind with your baby. Inform the NICU personal that you are doing this so that the cloth is not removed. Refresh with a clean cloth with each visit.
Comforting While Stressed
A premature baby is less able to shut out stimuli and to calm themselves down after being disturbed. Premature babies like to lie on their stomachs. They may also like lying on their side with a nest of rolled-up blankets. Preemies also get a feeling of control and security by being contained within boundaries, so wrapping your baby tightly in a blanket may help to calm them.
Quiet Is Calming
It is common for preemies to be irritable and more sensitive to stimulation, light, or loud noise. A great way to soothe your preemie is to keep the environment as quiet and peaceful as possible. Visitors should be kept at a minimum. Keep the light levels low. Close the shades in the room, as not to let direct sunlight in. Encourage other family members and siblings to talk and laugh in a soft tone. Turn down the volume of the TV, radio, and telephones.
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