When can you take your baby home?
Because every premature baby is different, there is no set time for when they are allowed to go home. Your baby’s doctors and nurses will want your baby to be well enough to go home as soon as possible, so they can start enjoying a more normal life. Usually, they will be discharged from hospital when your baby’s doctor is happy that they are:
• Feeding well
• Gaining weight
• Breathing on their own (although they may still need oxygen at home)
• Not dependent on an IV or feeding tube
• Learning to control their muscles
• Sleeping well
As a general guide, your baby may be allowed home at around the date they were originally due to be born, but if they have responded well to treatment, you may be able to take them home sooner.
Learning about neonatal care through 'rooming in'
Before taking your baby home, you will be given plenty of reassuring advice on neonatal care. In the run up to going home, it’s a good idea to try and get more involved with looking after your baby. If you are not doing so already, get involved in changing their nappies, feeding and bathing them.
Some hospitals offer rooming in, where you and your baby get to share a room for a few days. This gives you the chance to be in charge of their care, while having the support of hospital staff nearby, if you need them. Rooming in can help you feel more confident about caring for your baby and ease concerns about taking them home.
Help and support at home
When it is finally time to take your premature baby home, you’ll still be able to get lots of advice and support, should you need it:
• Your hospital may give you the number of a neonatal nurse or family care worker.
• As with any new parent, you will have the support of a local health visitor.
• You can also turn to your own GP or practice nurse for advice.
So, although it may be a bit daunting at first looking after your baby, you’ll never be far from someone who can offer help and support. Don’t forget, our team of experts, which includes midwives and healthcare professionals, is also here for you.
If you’d like to know more about what happens when your baby is ready to go home, our team is here to offer advice and support.