What is a premature baby anyway?
Premature birth means: born before the 37th week of pregnancy and under 2,500 g birth weight. In contrast, deficient babies are born after the 37th week of pregnancy and still weigh less than 2,500g. Physiologically, premature babies differ from mature babies in some respects:
- They have less or no body tension - especially in the neck/shoulder/trunk area
- They cannot block out noise
- Premature babies sleep less and for shorter periods
- They easily run into an energy deficit
- Less fat pads, greater risk of blue/white legs
- Premature babies have fewer opportunities to regulate themselves. Namely only: crying, sucking, carrying
- Often flat, non-round head shape (favours inclined planes in the neck, shoulder girdle and pelvic girdle)
Precisely because of the physiological peculiarities it can be particularly beneficial for premature infants to be carried! In a baby wrap, for example, premature babies save energy and therefore have more energy left over for feeding.
Premature babies have experienced fewer stimuli on all levels due to the lack of time in the mother's womb. The force of gravity takes hold of them earlier and the brain receives fewer movement stimuli. Wearing can make up for this deficit, which is why it is very beneficial for development.
Premature babies need a strong support for their head. Here it is advisable to form a thick roll from a gauze nappy to hold the head or to pull the wrap up to the back of the head. The simple edge of the wrap on the back of the neck is not enough for premature babies to hold their head.
Things to consider
For premature babies who are still in hospital, the doctor usually gives the OK for carrying. If the vital signs are correct and the medical equipment allows carrying, there is no time limit for carrying.
Instead of wearing very small premature babies in a wrap, the "kangaroo" is an option, e.g. in a bonding top.
If the child weighs less than 1,800 g, a special premature baby carrier is tied with the legs not sticking out but crossed in front of the body - as very small premature babies are not yet able to adopt the squat-splay position. There are preemie wraps with a narrow width of 45-55 cm instead of 70 or 80 cm. In aftercare, when the children are already at home, they usually weigh over 1,800 g and can be tied into a suitable wrap using the normal cross-carry sling.
It is not only children who need special attention, parents are also in an extreme situation and may need more support. Maybe they are plagued by feelings of guilt, maybe they cannot be with their child around the clock because they have other children, or maybe they are traumatised by the birth. Nevertheless, the parents stay in the clinic, the place where they were traumatised, for a long period of time, and thus cope with a great deal of psychological stress. It is always advisable to work together with specialist staff in the specific area. Here it is advisable to bring doctors, therapists and counselling centres on board, as these skills go far beyond advice on carrying the child.