You may have got used to the high level of support offered to parents and babies on a neonatal unit, so going it alone at home can seem daunting. But remember, your baby is only coming home because staff on the unit believe he or she is well enough to leave hospital, and that you are able to look after them.
You’ll probably have lots of questions about going home while your baby is still in hospital, but probably a lot more once your baby is discharged and you’re home alone (and it’s the middle of the night!) The premature baby and special care charity Bliss has lots of advice and information on their website to help new parents through the first few months of being at home with their tiny baby.
Things you will need before your baby comes home:
If you are going to be expressing, breastfeeding or bottle feeding at home don’t forget to buy some bottles and teats to use. You might like to get your baby used to using these first by taking some in, and using them, in hospital.
It’s a nice idea to keep a blanket or small soft toy at home for a few days, and let is absorb some of the smells of you and home. Take this into hospital a couple of days before you come home so that baby will be familiar with the object and smell.
You should have easy access to a telephone. A mobile will do but a landline is better if your baby has complex needs.
You will need a Group 0+ car seat with a head support to transport your baby home in a car, even if it’s a taxi or a short journey. Some hospitals have a loan scheme – it’s worth asking.
When your baby is discharged from hospital a group of health professionals will continue to advise you on issues like feeding, growth, immunisation, development and general baby care. Make sure you have a list of useful contact numbers in a handy place. If your baby has ongoing medical needs, there may be a homecare team from the hospital who will be actively involved in caring for them once they leave.
Apnoea monitors are extremely sensitive alarms which monitor breathing. If your baby has had frequent apnoea attacks (pauses in breathing) in hospital, or has come home on oxygen, staff on the unit may recommend you use this type of monitor at home.