Our littlest babies need our biggest attention. A whopping 10+% of all babies are born premature (before the 37th week of pregnancy is completed). That’s over 400,000 premature babies annually who need special care. Early babies have more health problems than full-termers do—particularly with their hearts and lungs. Also, preemies face a higher risk of SIDS.
And let’s not forget their moms and dads! They need lots of extra support too. After parents leave the stressed ambiance of the NICU (with 24/7 nurses, monitors and testing), they often feel suddenly all alone when they come home. And, that can make worry levels bubble up…and sometimes even shoot through the roof. Preemie parents often feel the pressure to do everything right—be great parents and perfect nurses—for their fragile babies. In fact, moms of preemies get an unfair share of PPD (postpartum depression) at 2-3 times the rate of moms of full term babies (as high as 40%!). And studies suggest that PPD may also be a serious concern for preemie dads, too.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month, and November 17th is World Prematurity Awareness Day. Happiest Baby hopes that by shining a light on the challenges of premature birth—and offering ways to help—we might make it just a little easier on our littlest babies and their amazing parents.
The Wonders of ‘Womb Service’
All newborns benefit from 3 months (a 4th trimester) of extra cuddling, sound and rocking. But, these little infants even need a bit more because they missed some of their 3rd trimester in mom’s belly. That’s why they feel so happy when we spend some time imitating their life in the womb, such as the 5 S’s (snug swaddling, shushy white noise and swinging motion) and skin-to-skin contact. (A recent UCLA study showed our Happiest Baby white noise helped improve cardiopulmonary health in preemies—less hypoxia/bradycardia). Parents—and their trusted helpers—should use these methods often, and use them with love!
A New & Nurturing Bed for Preemies
Last month, Happiest Baby released our new smart sleeper, SNOO. It is the safest, most effective baby bed ever made! SNOO’s innovative features give all babies—but especially preemies—an extra serving of the soothing, rhythms they missed by being “evicted” from the womb before their time. Within a day or two, SNOO boosts sleep and even calms a lot of baby fussing (it won’t soothe a baby who is hungry or uncomfortable, but it quickly calms babies who just need a bit more calming rhythms). Several families with premature babies test-drove SNOO with great success! In this video, Joel and Margaux talk about using SNOO with their daughter Ruby, who was born 6 weeks early.
Rest for Parents & Peace of Mind
Preemies feed extra-often…so getting a bit more sleep is super helpful for parents in the early days. As Margaux and Joel explained in the video above, SNOO didn’t suddenly have Ruby sleeping 6 hours straight, but it did instantly make them feel more confident (and that Ruby was safe and secure). Plus, it reduced their total awake time during night feedings by about 30 minutes each time! In addition, our smart sleeper is extra safe because the unique SNOO Sack has special wings that clip to the crib to prevent rolling onto the stomach, so it allows for safe wrapping for as long as baby needs. This little innovation can give moms and dads peace of mind, and help them sleep more soundly through the night.
If you found this information helpful, please participate in Preemie Awareness Day by sharing this article with the hashtag #worldprematurityday. If you have a friend of family member caring for a preemie, lend a hand…as you can see, these families need all the support they can get!