Milestones your preemie must meet before being discharged from the NICU

Published: 06th November 2009
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Waiting to be told when my baby was ready to come home made a month seem like an eternity. Each week she would pass a milestone and then there would be others that she just had not met yet. Not all of them were black and white and we were on the fringe of some but after 29 days we were ready to come home. This is what you can expect to hear when you get the surprise of having a tiny preemie baby.

The first thing that I was concerned about other than the size of my child was the fact that she was on 2lpm supplemental oxygen. She was breathing on her own which I was told was very good and within a couple of days she was taken off of the oxygen. That is one of the main requirements to being allowed to bring your baby home, your baby must be breathing on his or her own.

About the final milestone we met was the weight requirement. Now this is one of those black and white areas I was talking about. Samaiyah was born at 2lbs. 12oz. and the hospital likes the baby to be 5lbs. before being discharged. she was just over 4lbs. but since she was doing so well she was allowed to come home after all the other milestones were met.

Another requirement is for the baby to be able to maintain her body temperature. First they will be remain in their incubator and the temperature will be turned off and the baby will be monitored to see if their body temperature will remain steady and at the proper level. After a day or two if the baby is doing well they will move her to an open crib and then the fun begins because you are allowed to hold and interact with them pretty much all you want.

Also your baby must be taking all of her feedings by mouth. That means graduating from the feeding tube, learning to suck a bottle and not to breath while they are eating. Preemies can expirate the formula into their lungs because their bodies have not learned to hold their breath while drinking.

When it came down to the last test, the car seat test, we had to order a special one because she was still so tiny. This test was to see if the baby could deal with the ride home in the car seat and to make sure her oxygen saturation didn't drop and their were no drops or spikes in her heart rate. The baby is required to stay in the car seat for the estimated amount of time that it will take you to get her home from the hospital.

I hope this information has been of a help to you and given you an idea of what to expect in the NICU with your preemie.

I started blogging after getting the idea that I could keep an online diary of Samaiyah's life and would be able to go back and show her all the things that happened that she wouldn't be able to remember. She is five months old now and doing fine, still tiny though. I will be posting more articles as I learn more information about caring for preemies and giving them a head start in life.

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