To hear our experience in the NICU with all three of my children, click here.
Leaving the Hospital with a Preemie
I’ll never forget the day the neonatologist told me that my twin girls were officially ready to leave the NICU to go home. I was thrilled and excited, but also TERRIFIED.
How would I be able to care for my twins without all these machines and wires keeping track of their breathing, blood pressure and oxygen levels?
How would I know if something was wrong, if there wasn’t a nurse coming in every 3 hours to check temperatures, vitals and track feedings?
These were some of the common questions running through my mind when I was preparing to bring my twins home from the NICU.
Fears I had about bringing my twins home from the NICU
Visiting my twins daily in the NICU took its toll on me. I would visit my twins for 12 straight hours at a time. Once I was back home, I would constantly hear all the beeps and noises from their room in my head and it was hard to tune them out and relax.
In one way it haunted me, and in another I felt comfort in knowing that if anything at all was seemingly off, it would be caught in a matter of seconds.
At home, I wouldn’t have a nurse checking in on them and I wouldn’t have those machines as a security blanket.
At home, it would only be my own judgement as a first-time mother to twins.
Getting settled at home with preemie twins
Once at home I remember our first night home like it was yesterday.
I barely slept and continuously leaned over to make sure the twins were breathing. The girls woke up every 3 hours, just like they did in the NICU and as scary as it all was, it was also very exciting to have them finally home.
We were free.
They were ours and healthy enough to be out in the real world. I felt so much relief. if you’re making the transition home from the NICU and wondering if gets easier, I am here to tell you it does!
Starting a routine with preemie twins
The NICU would NOT send your baby(s) home if they were not ready.
My twins were supposed to be home a few days before they were discharged. They had
a small setback in which the neonatologist decided to err on the side of caution and
keep them a few more days.
We were thankful that we could have full confidence that they were ready to be home with us.
Listen, don’t obsess over the NICU care times.
Your baby is ready to be home.
Yes, you need to make sure they are getting enough calories and monitor their well-being, however, it’s OK to get on your OWN schedule.
In the NICU you were used to feeding and doing a temperature check every 3 hours,
however, I am here to tell you that your feeding times at home will be different than in
the hospital and that’s OK!
Follow your baby’s cues to be fed and changed on demand.
A schedule will emerge soon enough.
Your pediatrician is now your parenting expert to guide you through the next steps of helping your baby thrive.
If you want to learn more about what life is like with newborns, sign up for our Newborn Guide.
The guide is full of information on just what to expect with a newborn and how to encourage those long stretches of sleep at night. It even has lessons on multiples. Having knowledge is really empowering and can confidently give you access about how to build a foundation of safe sleep for your babies.
For updated safe sleep guidelines from the AAP, click here.
Remember to keep your baby(s) WARM!
In the NICU your baby(s) was likely in an isolate for some period of time.
Your child was also likely having his or her temperature checked regularly. Your baby may need one extra layer of clothing than what you have on.
At our first pediatricians’ appointment after being discharged from the hospital, I was shocked to learn that my son (also born premature) had a temperature of 96.0. The pediatrician sent me home with strict orders to wrap him in blankets and take his temperature again in 2 hours.
If his temperature did not go up, I would have had to take him back to the hospital for an evaluation.
Learn from me and bundle your baby even if it’s the Summertime! I was so concerned about making sure he didn’t overheat in August, that I discounted the fact that he was a little guy just under 6lbs.
When baby is sleeping use a newborn swaddle or a receiving blanket snuggly swaddled over your baby's pajamas. Do not use any loose blankets and clothing when baby is asleep.
Preemies & germs
It's smart to be cautious about germs when bringing a premature baby home. Your baby has an immature immune system which means it’s easier for him or her to get sick.
Do not feel bad about limiting visitors and not going out to public places in the very beginning. There is only so much control that you have here and you may have older children at home.
Keeping hands clean after using the restroom and when entering the house from outside or after visiting a public place will be super important to limit germ exposure.
Preemies have access to early intervention resources
Most premature babies automatically qualify for early intervention services to aid in
your baby’s development. This is free in many states and definitely a good idea to look into.
Both twins had torticollis and a physical therapist from Early Intervention came to our house weekly to do specific exercises so that we could avoid having them be in helmets. We love the account Baby Begin on Instagram! They educate parents on plagiocephaly, giving parents the confidence to intervene from an early age to correct a flat head.
In conclusion, this is a huge milestone for your baby and family.
It seems scary to think about all the big changes coming up when bringing your baby home, but always remember you are the perfect parent for your child and you are doing a great job.
If your mental health has struggled during this time, always reach out to a healthcare professional for an evaluation.
Stellina Ferri is the author of this article. Stellina is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and mom of three.
She supports families through the journey of better sleep as a consultant with Tweet Dreamzz Sleep Consulting.
She lives in the Boston, MA area with her family.
Book a free call with Stellina!