Taking a newborn home from the hospital is a joyous occasion for any parent. But for parents of premature newborns it can be both a blessing and a frightening experience. Studies show that premature infants who receive oxygen support are at high risk of developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia, with can cause life-threatening complications in infancy and life-long reduced lung function into adulthood. In the hospital setting, there's always someone around to help your baby in case of an emergency.
But, that's not usually the case at home, which is why most doctors highly recommend that parents of premature babies receive CPR training before their little bundles of joy can be released to go home. It's also vital that parents take as many necessary precautions as possible to reduce the risks of infection, which is a huge threat to a baby already at risk of developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Here are a few ways to reduce risks of lung infection.
Install a Whole-House HEPA Air Purifier
Improve the quality of the air inside your home by installing a whole-house HEPA air purifier system. Depending on the type of heating and air conditioning systems you have in your home, a whole-house air purifier may be retrofitted to your existing system or be installed in conjunction with the system. If you choose to have a whole-house system installed, you should have it done before taking your baby home from the hospital. Alternatively, if time or costs aren't on your side, you can use portable air purifier units in rooms where your baby will spend most of their time.
Feed Your Baby High-Calorie Foods
With a diminished lung capacity, your baby may struggle to put on weight. The reason for this is because he or she will have to work extra hard to eat, since they have to breathe while nursing or taking a bottle. Gaining weight is absolutely necessary for the growth and development of your baby, which includes the growth and development of their lungs. High-calorie and nutritionally dense foods, whether through mom's breast milk or from formula, will give them the boost they need to reduce the risks of developing life-long lung problems. Speak with a neonatal nutritionist before your baby is discharged.
Require Everyone in the Home to Wear Masks
Almost immediately after taking your baby home, you will have well-meaning family members and friends want to visit. While it's important to limit the number of guests in your home to reduce the risks of someone bringing a virus or bacteria that could harm your baby's fragile lungs, everyone who is in the home and around your baby should wear latex-free particle masks to reduce your baby's exposure to harmful elements. That includes Mom, Dad, and siblings. Stock up on a supply of particle masks in various sizes so there's no risk of running out, as they are meant to be disposed of after each use. Do this in conjunction with the air purifier for the cleanest air possible for your baby to breathe.
Always Wash Hands with Antibacterial Soap
Before you or anyone holds your baby or handles anything your baby will touch, hands must be washed with antibacterial soap. According to research, cold viruses can survive on skin for up to 20 minutes and up to six hours on hard surfaces, such as faucet handles. Therefore, instruct everyone to turn the faucet off with a fresh paper towel or grabbing the faucet handle after washing the hands could defeat the purpose. After hands are freshly cleaned with antibacterial soap, allow the hands to air dry or use another fresh paper towel to dry them with. Important note: the best time to put on a particle mask is after hands are washed and dried.