The discharge of your baby from the hospital is a big event. It has been a long, hard road to get your little one to this point and the thought of having your baby at home all to yourself can be both scary and exciting at the same time. It is scary that you will lose the twenty-four hour medical supervision, the monitors, and the comfort zone that you have developed with the nurses and other parents. For first time parents there is the worry about whether you can cope, what if something goes wrong; will you know exactly what to do? And even for parents who have already have other children at home, those thoughts can be still there, especially if this is their first prem.
Getting your baby ready for discharge
Each hospital has discharge guidelines that they will follow. For most baby’s discharge will happen around their original due date. If you had been transferred to the larger hospitals before or at birth, most times your baby will be transferred back to that hospital once he is stable and past needing the intensive care.
Some of the things your hospital will want your baby to have achieved before they will look at discharging are:
- Your baby’s medical conditions need to be stable. Some baby’s will go home with ongoing medical problems, but these problems will be ones that can be handled by the parents and as an outpatient.
- Your baby will need to be able to breathe on her own without any aid and maintain a good blood oxygen level. Some babies do, however, go home on oxygen.
- Your baby will need to be able to control and maintain his body temperature.
- Your baby has reached a predetermined weight and is gaining weight at a steady rate. You will probably asked to have your baby’s weight checked regularly to ensure that this is still happening.
- Your baby will need to be able to feed himself either from the breast or a bottle.
Getting Mum & Dad ready to take home their new baby.
The hospital will help you learn how to handle your prem in preparation to taking her home. In most cases this has been ongoing since your baby was born. The nurses understand you will be nervous about taking your baby home and will help you gain the confidence to cope with taking control of the day to day care of your prem. cope with everything. If there is something you are unsure of, ask.
The most important thing you will want to learn before you take your baby home is how to do infant CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) Chances are you will never need to use CPR, but it is important to know what to do in an emergency.
You will need to know how to do the basic caring of your baby – changing his nappy, giving her a bath, the best way to hold him, how to keep her warm or cool.
You will need to be confident with breast or bottle-feeding. And if bottle feeding, how to mix formulas and sterilise bottles. How often you will need to feed and how much formula or how long at a breastfeed.
You will need to know what to look for if you baby is taking ill. How to take his temperature. How to give any medicines, she will need. A lot of baby’s will go home from hospital on vitamins and iron for the first few months, you will need to be comfortable giving him these.
If your baby is going home on oxygen, you will been to be comfortable with this:- how it will be used, any monitoring needed, how to change the tubing if needed.
Is your baby going home with any other monitors or machines, you will need to know how and when to use each one, what they are for and what to do if something goes wrong with them.
Have you the equipment you need for your new baby? Where will she sleep, where to bath him, change his nappy?
Have you organised a carseat for her? Is it correctly fitted? The Queensland Ambulance have a capsule hire service with fitting or Kidsafe house at Herston may be able to help with the hire or fitting of your baby restraint.
In all the excitement of taking your baby home finally it is easy to forget some very important points. Listed here are some of the things you will need to know before leaving the hospital.
Have you had explained to you any problems that your baby has? Are they ongoing problems? Do you know how to handle them? Are they longterm?
Will your baby need followup appointments? Have they made for you prior to discharge? Will you need to make them once you get home? Do you have the telephone numbers you need to make the appointments?
Ask the nurses to write down any medication doses for your baby. What, when and how much?
Have you received your bay’s Personal Health Record Book, and a copy of the PIPA parent information kit? The personal health record book is a book that you can keep and use at any doctors’ visit to record your baby’s growth and development. It has in it growth charts, record of immunisation and other useful information. The PIPA information kit is a set of 5 information sheets that are given to all parents on the discharge of their premature baby from a Queensland hospital.
Is there a 24-hour help line you can call? Some nurseries are happy to take calls about recently discharged prems. Ask before you leave.
Taking your Prem home is a big step, but we know you can handle it!
The primary aim of PIPA is to provide practical and emotional support to the parents and families of premature infants. However we do not offer professional advice. We are parents of preterm baby’s and not medical staff. We do offer understanding, support, encouragement and friendship.