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30-32 weeks

At this gestation your baby's organs and senses are underdeveloped. Your touch should be gentle, sounds should be soft and lighting should be dim. Care for your baby is specialised because your baby is so small and young.

 

Touching and holding

At this age your baby's skin is sensitive to touch.

What can you do?

  • Prepare your baby for touch by speaking to them in a soft voice.
  • When touching your baby do not stroke, rub or poke, but provide a continuous gentle pressure on their legs and upper body.
  • When changing your baby's nappy be calm and gentle, try not to provide a stressful environment for your baby.
  • When holding your baby encourage that arms and legs remain quite central to their body and hands close to their face.
  • Hold your baby still; avoid rocking as your baby will not tolerate this motion at this age.
  • Move your hands away from your baby slowly and gently, with no abrupt movements.
  • Kangaroo care and skin to skin - holding your baby will be possible depending on your baby's condition and development, please speak to the nurse looking after your baby.

 

Feeding and nutrition

At this age your baby can taste and smell, and you may notice your baby rooting. Your baby needs to learn to suck, swallow and breathe during feeds.  At this age this rhythm begins to be co-ordinated. Milk may be given though a feeding tube. You may see your baby become restless before feeds; at this point your baby can be offered a dummy.

What can you do?

  • You should be expressing your milk as soon as possible, whether its hand expressing or using a pump. Breast milk is important for your baby as it helps build up your baby's immunity and helps prevent infections.
  • Offer a dummy during tube feeds.
  • Where possible hold your baby during tube feeds.
  • Try suckling at the breast to encourage breast feeding later on.
  • Kangaroo care and skin to skin will help with your milk production.
  • Consider placing a breast pad scented with your milk during tube feeds.
  • Your baby may suck on their dummy for short periods of time, it's likely that your baby will need help keeping it in their mouth.

 

Sleeping

At this gestation it is easy to see when your baby is awake (more movements) or asleep (few movements).

What can you do?

  • When your baby is asleep it is important to try not to wake them. Your baby will use fewer calories when sleeping, which will help with growth and development.
  • Avoid light directly into your baby's eyes and try to keep quiet around your baby's bed space.
  • Before giving care to your baby, wake your baby by gently placing your hands on them.
  • When your baby is showing signs of being awake, use this opportunity to do cares.

 

Positioning

At this age your baby's movement will be more meaningful, they will start to bring their hands to their mouth and their arms and legs to their body.  Your baby will often stretch during this stage.

What can you do?

  • Your baby should be nursed with boundaries around them to imitate the womb.
  • Your baby should maintain a snuggled 'fetal' position to facilitate emerging development of extension and flexion of their arms and legs.
  • When doing cares and repositioning your baby, this must be done with slow, gentle movements without sudden changes.
  • Your baby will stretch often and may need repositioning more frequently.

 

Looking, listening and smelling

At this stage your baby's eyes will open for short periods and can briefly look at faces.  Your baby prefers soft sounds compared to other sounds.

What can you do?

  • Talking and interacting with your baby should be done when they are awake and in a low light setting.
  • When possible let your baby sleep.
  • Avoid bright lights in your baby's face.
  • Shading your baby's eyes will make it easier for them to look at you.
  • Remain still when your baby's eyes are open, as they will not be able to look at moving objects.
  • When your baby is awake occasionally expose them to soft rhythmic sounds.
  • Think about placing a hankie or muslin cloth in the incubator that has their mother's skin smell on it.
  • Protect your baby from strong odours like perfume and aftershave.
  • Avoid encouraging your baby to look at toys or pictures.