When I delivered premature twins at 29 weeks gestation, keeping them alive and healthy became a 24 hour job. I always heard that an infant could survive after being born at 24 weeks so at 29 I wasn’t super panicked. Ignorance is bliss they say. Survival and going home right away are two different things. We spent 2.5 lovely months inside the NICU with those boys, and the medical intervention required to get them home was astounding.
As challenging as NICU days are, there are a few advantages. Home nurses visit you at the hospital, specialists come to the cribs, and you get to say good night and drive home each night – extra sleep to wean you into the new born stage.
One thing she recommended was getting the RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) vaccine for my boys and I was thrilled that they offered the first round with the new 2 month vaccines while we were in the NICU. RSV is a big concern for children under the age of two causing about 200 infant deaths each year. While all babies are susceptible to RSV, premature babies are at an even higher risk. For my children we had a vaccine each month from November to April.
What is the difference between a cold and RSV? Symptoms to look out for:
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
- Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
How to protect your baby:
- never let anyone smoke around your bay
- wash your hands often, and ask anyone holding your baby to do the same. It feels a bit neurotic but its worth it.
- Keep toys, clothes, blankets, and sheets clean
- Limit the time around other children (daycare and large groups) especially if someone has a cold.
November is premature awareness month and November 17 is World Prematurity Awareness Day. To get more information, stories, statistics and geographical information check out RSVProtection.com or follow on all social media channels with the hashtags #RSVAwareness and #PreemieProtection