Babies are looked after in a maternity hospital that can meet their needs. An extremely preterm baby must be looked after in a Level III maternity unit, which is generally a university hospital.
Organs are formed and finished during the pregnancy. When the baby is born preterm, the organs are not yet mature and each one requires specific care.
The ductus arteriosus closes at birth when babies are born at term. Preterm babies must be monitored regularly with echocardiography. If the ductus arteriosus does not close, medical treatment may be proposed. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary.
To breathe at birth, the baby may be assisted by machines, invasively or non-invasively. The duration of such treatment varies greatly from baby to baby.
A preterm baby is not able to regulate its temperature itself, and therefore requires a heated incubator.
The ability to suck is developed from 32 weeks of gestation. To feed a preterm baby, two systems are available: feeding through an intravenous line or by nasogastric tube, through which it is possible to deliver the mother’s breastmilk.
Milk intake is initially exclusively breastmilk from the mother or another woman through a donation to the milk bank.
Extremely preterm babies’ vision must be monitored by an ophthalmologist by means of regular fundus examinations.
Highly fragile in the first days after the birth, great care must be taken by using mild products, particularly during perfusions.
A preterm baby sleeps a lot during the day and interacts less than a baby born at term. It can, however, recognize its mother’s smell and is sensitive to touch. This is why types of nursing care such as skin contact, cocooning and placing clothing with a familiar smell in the incubator have been developing in recent years. This allows the baby to create an interaction with its parents and to get to know them.