I rarely heard of someone having a premature baby until it happened to a close friend of mine. We were both pregnant at the same time (first child for each of us). She was due in late September and I was due early December. Our kids were going to be in the same grade.
But instead, she ended up going into labor and delivering at 32 weeks.
Her son spent a full month in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) before he was able to go home with his parents. Can you imagine leaving the hospital without your baby?
But that wasn’t the end of it. Even once the baby was home, they couldn’t have visitors or go out in public.
The doctors were afraid that because he was a preemie (underdeveloped lungs and immature immune system), that their baby was vulnerable to infection from a virus called RSV. He even had a nurse come to their house once a month (for six months) to give their baby an RSV vaccination. RSV is that concerning for premature infants.
My friend wasn’t the only person close to me that delivered prematurely. My cousin delivered her daughter at 33 weeks, a close friend from college delivered her son at 35 weeks, and another cousin delivered her son at 32 weeks. Each and every one of them quickly had to learn what RSV was and how to protect their babies.
What is RSV?
If you’ve never heard of RSV, you’re not alone. 67% of moms haven’t. Below are some highlights:
- RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization in the US.
- Up to 500 infants die each year due to RSV.
- Average RSV related costs were 2.5 times more expensive for preemie babies than full term ones (longer hospital stays).
- RSV is very common and can live on doorknobs, countertops, and toys for hours.
- Almost 100% of children contract RSV by the time they are 2 years old (in most kids it is mild and is mistaken for a cold).
Precautions for Meeting Baby
If you have a friend or family member with a premature baby, it is important to use these precautions when meeting the baby:
- Postpone a visit if you feel that you may be getting sick, have recently been ill or exposed to illness (including having visited someone else in a hospital).
- If you feel the parents are being overprotective or overly cautious, remember that they are trying to do what is best for their child.
- Offer to help in a way that doesn’t involve handling the baby – such as laundry, cooking or dishes.
- Wash your hands frequently—upon entering the home and especially prior to holding the baby.
- Leave toddlers at home, especially during the winter months. Young children often carry germs and viruses, like RSV, that are easily spread.
Our children were all full term – thank goodness. But, even without worrying about RSV, I appreciated when people followed the above guidelines. I especially loved when people brought us dinner! Any other tips you have to add to the list?
Has anyone close to you had a premature baby?
**Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.