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Less than 26 weeks gestation

Prem baby 23 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 point your baby's skin is underdeveloped, fragile and sensitive. Baby's also have difficulty maintaining their temperature and staying warm due to underdeveloped skin. Your baby will be nursed in a heated incubator with some humidity to help with the development if skin and to maintain their temperature.

What can you do?

  • When changing your baby's nappy be calm and gentle, try not to provide a stressful environment for your baby.
  • Containment holdingPlace your finger in the palm of your baby's hand for them to hold.
  • Containment holding - place your hands gently at your baby's head and bottom.
  • Kangaroo care and skin to skin - holding your baby may be possible depending on your baby's development, please speak to the nurse looking after your baby.

Feeding and nutrition

At this age your baby can taste and smell, however their stomach is underdeveloped. At this stage your baby will be getting all its nutrition through drips and feeding tubes. If your baby is having milk it will be a very small amount increasing very slowly.

What can you do?

  • You should be expressing your milk as soon as possible, whether its hand expressing or from the pump. Breast milk is important for your baby as it helps build up your baby's immunity and helps prevent infections.

Sleeping

It is often difficult to tell if your baby is asleep or awake at this gestation because their eyes may not open. Generally babies will be quiet and content when they are asleep, or be active and moving when they are awake.

What can you do?

  • When your baby is asleep it is important to try not to wake him/her. 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.

Positioning

At this age your baby's movement will mainly be jerks, twitches and startles. Your baby will try and stretch their arms and legs but will not yet have much control over these movements.

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.


Looking, listening and smelling

At this age your baby's eyes may be closed. At this age your baby will recognise your voice and smell, however your baby's senses will be very sensitive.

What can you do?

  • Peel back the incubator cover slowly so that the light changes around your baby are gradual.
  • Shield your baby's eyes from bright or direct light.
  • Avoid loud sounds and voices around your baby.
  • Protect your baby from strong odours like perfume and aftershave.