One of the most frightening things an expectant mother can experience is going into labor and giving birth far too early. Fortunately, neonatal intensive care units (NICU) are staffed and equipped to handle the challenges preemies are faced with. Here's what you need to know if you are pregnant and concerned about premature birth or have already given birth to a preemie baby. 

Advancements in Medical Treatment 

Advances in medical care and treatment of preemies has led to a survival rate of 78.9% for preemies born at 22-25 weeks gestation, according to research. At 22 weeks gestation, a fetus weighs 15.17 ounces on average and has undeveloped lungs. In preparation to give birth to a preemie, mothers in pre-term labor are given corticosteroids while in labor to help speed up the lung development in their fetus' prior to birth. After birth, preemies typically are on respirators and oxygen in the NICU.

Breathing Challenges of Preemies

Due to underdevelopment of the lungs, preemies are susceptible to breathing problems such as sleep apnea, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and respiratory syncytial virus. Because of the susceptibility to these and other breathing conditions, it's important that parents be prepared to take care of their preemies special health concerns and mitigate risks when they are finally discharged from the hospital.

Preparing for Discharge 

During the weeks or months while the preemie is in the NICU, parents can prepare for the preemie to go home by doing these things: 

  • take pediatric CPR classes 
  • consult with a neonatal occupational therapist
  • install a whole-house HEPA filtration system
  • get trained to use special equipment

It is important to have everyone who will care for your baby be trained in pediatric CPR. You can sign up for classes together, or if there are a number of you, perhaps you can schedule private classes just for those in your group. 

Important note: Parents are required to take pediatric CPR classes before their preemies are sent home with apnea monitoring devices. 

Ongoing Education 

As your preemie grows, it's a good idea to receive additional pediatric CPR training to keep yourself fresh on what to do should your little one experience breathing problems in the future, particularly as your preemies grows and you're no longer able to cradle him or her in the crook of your arm to perform CPR as you would on a small premature infant. The NICU social worker can give you more information on scheduling classes before your baby is discharged from the hospital.

Consider a company like Emergency and Health Training Center to learn more about pediatric CPR.