Born in week 22-24
The baby's brain is very immature and has a smooth and even surface. The majority of all nerve cells have already been formed in the very premature baby. Most of the energy in the baby's body goes towards the continuous development of the brain. Branches and interfaces are formed that connect the nerve cells in order to transmit nerve impulses. The baby's hearing is already developed and loud sudden noises can be disturbing. The eyelids are very thin and provide only minimal protection from light. Therefore, if/when the baby opens its eyes, they are very sensitive to light and need as much protection as possible. The baby has developed a sense of smell and taste.
Its skin is immature, thin, red and delicate, and complete maturation can take weeks to months. The skin of very premature babies has plenty of superficial nerve fibres. Therefore, the baby is very sensitive and seems to prefer gentle, warm hands that are still and provide support for its body.
The baby's movement patterns are immature and can be described as sudden and jerky. You can see sweeping movements and stretches. The baby needs help to obtain a comfortable, foetal position with its hands close to its mouth.
It can be difficult to ascertain if the baby is awake or asleep as the baby switches between superficial sleep and a diffuse drowsy wakefulness. The baby strives for calm and rest in order to conserve energy to grow and develop.
During the first weeks of life, the baby will need highly specialised intensive care in an incubator with warm air and a high level of humidity in order to maintain its body temperature. Normal body temperature is crucial for the baby's well-being, growth and development. As the brain is still immature, care is focused on maintaining a quiet, calm and dark environment. The baby is cared for in a sleeping pod, specially designed to provide support. To minimise any disruptions, care is meticulously planned.
The baby's lungs are also immature, so all babies need some form of respiratory support, often using a ventilator initially, in order to be able to breathe regularly. The baby may have imbalances in the regulation of heart rate and breathing.
During the first week, a majority of all babies require repeated light therapy due to their immature liver.
The baby's nutrients are primarily supplied through IV nutrition. The baby can often be given small amounts of feed using a feeding tube that is inserted through its nose and which goes down to its stomach.
Due to its thin skin and immature immune system, there is an increased risk of infection.
What can I do, as a parent?
Spend as much time as possible with your baby and participate in its care so you have a chance to get to know one another. At that age, babies are very sensitive to all forms of sensory input. They interact very little with their surroundings, but are helped by a calm and harmonious environment, and by the fact that everything is done very slowly with several breaks and preferably using one stimulus or sensory input at a time. You can therefore hold your baby with soft, warm and still hands, applying mild, gentle pressure. Help the baby to adopt and maintain a comfortable position with its arms and legs held in towards its body with its hands near its mouth or face. From its time in the womb, the baby is used to having a boundary around itself. Talk in a gentle tone of voice, the baby will recognise you. Let the baby have a piece of cloth with your smell on it close to its face.
As soon as your baby has stabilised it can come out of the incubator and be held skin to skin against your chest. This has a range of positive effects on the baby's development and well-being. It may help the baby to stabilise its breathing, heart rate, body temperature and digestion. It also releases "feel-good" hormones in both you and your baby. The staff will help you put the baby in a good position so that you are able to enjoy some time together.
After giving birth, you can begin to stimulate your breasts to produce milk. The first energy-rich drops of breast milk (colostrum) can be given straight into the baby's mouth upon consultation with the staff. Offer your baby a dummy dipped in breast milk as it already has a sucking reflex.
Learn the ward's hygiene procedures to help prevent infection. Avoid strong scents, such as perfume, and let the hand disinfectant dry properly before holding your baby.
We would like you to participate in the daily ward round and tell us about your baby, and plan its care together with the medical team.