Ideas on How to Help SIL with Possible Preemie

Updated on July 22, 2010
B.R. asks from York, PA
11 answers

Hi Moms! My Sister in Law just went to the doctor's with bad cramps. Turns out they were contractions. She is 2 centimeters and 80% effaced. They're giving her medication to try to stop labor and two rounds of steroids for the baby's growth. So far it's working. She'll be in the hospital overnight and then on bedrest. She is 33 weeks pregnant now, and they would like to see her hang in there for at least two more weeks.
My question is, how can we help? Are there any special, preemie specific things she will need besides clothes? Are there preemie carseats? And what should we do about her shower? She has already had one shower and has pretty much everything all ready to go. Should we hold the shower after the baby is born? She's a first time mom, planning on nursing, and tends to be stressed easily. So I'm thinking she might be exhausted and freaked out to be around tons of possibly germy people with her new baby. Then my mom made the point that if she has to leave the baby in the hospital for awhile, she might be glad to have a shower to distract her when she can't be around the baby. What do you think? Any moms who have been in her situation? What would you have liked?

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answers from Seattle on

Wait and see what happens but also ask her what she might prefer. If she does give birth early be there for her emotionally but also try to help by possibly making meals(ones that can be frozen and reheated easily), cleaning house, running errands, and so on. She will not know until the baby is born if a special preemie car seat will be needed she will also be told what the baby needs to be fed as some of the time there special dietary needs but often times there are not. I had both of my children early, though [email protected]; mine were [email protected] weeks so I'm just basing a lot of this off of things I would've liked when I had each of my children.

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answers from Gainesville on

My son was born at exactly 32 weeks after 2 rounds in the hospital for me so I know exactly how she is feeling.

Depending on when the baby is born he/she may need to stay in the NICU until they can maintain their body temp, breathe/suck& swallow while keeping their heartrate up while feeding, obviously breathe on their own, keep their heartrate consistent. Having the steroids on board will make a huge difference. My son was on the vent for less than 24 hours and on the CPAP for less than 24 hours because I had been given steroids.

I would not have wanted a baby shower while my little one was in the hospital. It would have upset me even more. I cried and cried the day I had to come home without him. To have a shower while he was in the hospital would have made me a wreck. And no, baby should not have tons of people around he/she for quite some time depending on what week they make their arrival.

Offer to drive her to the hospital, make food for them so they can spend as much time with the baby at the hospital as possible.

I was die-hard dedicated to the idea of breastfeeding. Be her advocate or make sure her partner knows to. Have them bring a pump in as soon as possible after delivery! And she needs to pump every 3 hours just as if baby was nursing. If she really wants to breastfed you can't skimp on this. That is what gets the production going! I highly recommend using the medela steam bags to make cleaning all the pump parts quick and simple. Those would have been a dream for me to have with my son!

For the actual nursing part-have her try to nurse baby as soon as it's physically possible for baby to try. We never got to much while my son was there for the 6 weeks but I kept pumping away and building my supply. Once we got home I worked to get him to the breast. It took about 6 weeks and then he got it. I went from the hospital bottles to the Playtex nurser with the brown/latex nipple. It is very soft like the breast and with the drop ins it allows mom to squirt just a tiny, tiny amount of milk in baby's mouth so they know they the different nipple is there. I also fed my son with my top and bra off and when I burped him I switched sides just as if I were nursing him. The we started trying the breast at feedings and he eventually got it! He nursed till he was 16 months old.

These are the things that I did and that worked for me. It was a tremendous amount of work in the beginning but then things slowed down and became more normal. My son had some other things going on not really related to the prematurity that added to me feeling like I was running a race every day but my hubby and I managed and so will your sil.

Best to them!

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answers from Washington DC on

Hi , my daughter was born at 34 weeks , although she was quite a healthy size at 6lb and only stayed in NICU for 10 days , but we still had to follow certain rules like wash hands before touching her , not have her around too many people and avoid going out and about too much in the very early weeks. The car seat she has (if she has that yet) should be fine , ours was suitable from 5lbs and most are like that now , she may need some smaller onesies and sleep suits , but hold off on buying too much as they do grow quite quickly , also a pack of small size diapers and then just buy as needed as again they grow out of them quickly.

As for the shower , it may be best to hold off and do it at a later date , if the baby is early and has to stay in hospital , them I am sure mom will spend her days at the hospital , mom and dad can go into NICU at anytime of the day or night (except for a period of 1 or 2 hrs when the staff want quiet time for the babies).

Other than that it would just need to be taken a day at a time.

Hope this helps

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answers from Allentown on

Modern medicine is amazing, I had a friend who started having contractions in her 29th week and actually ended up delivering her daughter LATE! My best advice is try to stay positive. It's super sweet of you to think of how you can help! In the event the baby comes early, it's possible baby may have a NICU stay. I'd say a breast pump is a great idea. And storage- I like the lanishoh bags and the first years freezer storage organizer.
I personally wouldn't want a baby shower while my baby is in the hospital, I don't really like showers after baby is born- I'd consider throwing one soon if her health allows it.
In the meantime Mom may have bedrest. How about helping out around the house? Pitch in for a cleaning crew to help out or help cook & freeze meals for once baby is here.
Best of luck! Praying baby hangs in there for at least 3 more weeks! My son was born at 36 weeks- no health issues, normal hospital stay & a healthy happy 5 year old now!

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answers from Stationed Overseas on

Just wait for now and see what happens. It's possible that the medications will work and keep that little baby inside for a few more weeks. So don't jump the gun and start buying a ton of preemie stuff. She also needs rest and relaxation I wouldn't do a baby shower unless you can get her to lay on the couch the entire time which might not be fun for her so ask her what she would want to do.
If she does give birth early and the baby needs to stay in the NICU there are a ton of things you can do for her. Make some meals ahead of time and put them in her freezer with a sticky on how to reheat. Offer to do anything she might need. If she mentions "oh I need to go do this" then do it for her. The NICU can be a scary and tramatizing place and she will need to focus on that. Depending of the size of the babies preemie clothes in my opinion would be great. I had a 33wkr who was under 5lbs and she wore preemie clothes for months. And no not all babies at this gestation has a short NICU stay so just be aware of that. Thankfully my SILs had my baby shower the week before I gave birth because there is no way I would have done it while the baby was in the NICU. I was there all day and my husband had a hard time tearing me away to go home just to get some rest.
Most of all offer her some support emotionally. If you don't have a preemie yourself it's hard to imagine all the emotions a mom and dad too go through. Lots of guilt for not being able to go to term, fear over what's going on and exhaustion. So listen to her when she needs to talk and give her lots of hugs. Hoping she gets a few more weeks!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Well I am hopeful she will saty pregnant. I just had my daughter two weeks ago. At 23 weeks I was put on bedrest so we could prolong the pregnancy and we made it to 38 weeks, far beyond the 32 we were aiming for. If they give her anti contraction meds that cause pain, have her ask if they can lace it with a pain med as well. At home I carried my anti contraction meds with me but only had to take them if I felt any contractions..others on this site have talked about taking the drugs continuously. I also got weekly injections to soften up my uterus. Progesterone. People brought me books because I love to read, movies but it was too hard to watch TV because then my toddler would too. I was loaned a mini laptop, and giving advice on this site made me feel better about myself when I was completely dependant on others. I had great in home care, thank GOD, because at the time toddlers weren't allowed to visit because of swine flu. So that was great motivation to stay flat, I didn't want to be parted from my son. I was only allowed a total of thirty minutes a day for bathroom breaks. For every bathroom break I would try to switch rooms, to break monotony. I LOVED visitors. And my parents bought a wonderful padded chiase lounge so I could lie down outside, felt like heaven. Also spent time being cared for at my parents house when my husband had to work a ton. Still on total bed rest BUT felt like a break to be somewhere else. Good luck! Bed rest is super sucky but we are so thankful we had the chance to DO something to make a difference in our daughter's life. I hope your SIL gets that chance as well!

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answers from Des Moines on

If she lives very far from the hospital I'd be sure she has a nice little cooler to haul breatmilk in in case she ends up pumping for a baby in NICU and a car adapter for her pump so she can pump while hubby drives.

And books, movies, crafts whatever she needs to keep her busy on bed rest until the baby is born!

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answers from Sacramento on

As a mom of a preemie, I bonded with the smell of hospital soap and my electric breast pump. If she wants to breastfeed get together with some friends and buy her a good pump. They range in cost, but I think it was about $300.00 and I used it with both of my kids and passed it one to a friend after.The baby will probably have to stay in the hospital for at least a little while and she will wake up engorged... but with no baby. It's a terrible feeling, but at least you know you're doing something good for your baby and you can call the hospital at 3am and see how he/she is doing.

Other things that I needed were preemie clothes. Even though my little guy was a great birthweight for his age, he was still swimming in the newborn clothes. I also was happy to have an extra headrest thingie that fits in the carseat. I don't know what this is called, but it is just extra padding that fitsaround the headrest so their little heads don't flop around. They are sooo floppy!

Dinners that she can freeze and reheat are great.

Honestly, the thing I treasured the most is that my mom came to stay for a month. This was mostly because we have an older child also and we wanted to keep her in a good schedule and spend as much time in the hospital as possible. So usually just one of us went to the hospital and the other stayed with our daughter, but sometimes it was nice for us both to go and for grandma to stay with our daughter. I really liked having my Mom come to the hospital with me sometimes. Her help during that time was support we didn't even know we needed. Ask your sister in law if she wants company.

Just a note of encouragement... my little guy was born 2 and a half months early and is now a happy, healthy, brilliant (almost 5 year old). We did have some physical therapy early on, but no significant problems. He was caught up by age 3. Encourage your sis in law to seek early intervention services if it is available in your area. They were aware of things that I had no idea about and I believe our son did better because we took action to correct problems early on.


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answers from San Francisco on

As an easily stressed mom of a preemie who also planned to nurse I can only give you advice based on my own situation. Because I gave birth two months early due to pre-eclampsia along with HELLP syndrome I was very stressed out an my body was wrecked.

Premature babies can't really latch very well because they're still sort of fetal. Not all the way cooked even though they're out of the womb. She wasn't strong enough to latch so I had to pump. A rented hospital grade pump is best but it costs between $50 and $75 a month not including the cost of all the attachments she'll need to hook it up to herself. You don't rent those you have to buy them. The hospital can hook you up.

My milk never really came in so I had to buy special preemie formula from similac and that got expensive. It costs a lot more than the regular formula.

The best thing you can do for your sister in law is listen to her. The biggest issue I had with my family was that they were always there and didn't listen when I said I was tired and needed some time. I never had a moment alone to fart! People were crawling all over themselves to help when all I really wanted was to be alone with my husband and my baby.

Also, don't drop a lot of cash on preemie clothing because the baby will grow out of those faster than you can turn around. And unless she's excited about the idea of it, I'd nix the shower. Being around a lot of people was the last thing I wanted after giving birth to a preemie. I visited my daughter in the NICU every day and it was like I was a bio hazard just for being alive. I wouldn't want to pick something up from someone and compromise all the babies in there.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hi! My twins (boy/girl) were born preemies at 33 wks! I would have contractions and was kept in the hospital like 3 times for it. The last time I was taking medicine to keep them in for at least 2 more wks. They even gave me magnesium which made me feel horrible!! But they came anyways, I had a terrible cough that wouldn't go away so I coughed too hard and my water broke! I wasn't dialated but membrane was very thin! My daughter was born 4lbs.14oz & 18 inch long, my son 5lbs.4oz & 16 inch long. They stayed in NICU for 3 wks. My daughter at first had breathing problems but got better soon. They weren't feeding right and that's really the only reason they stayed that long. But both came home at the same time, thank God! I was bedridden for that 7th month and not do a thing! You are very kind to help your sister-in-law! My in-laws never called me once during my entire pregnancy, they would call my husband, but never me! They didn't even go see babies at the hospital and most live in-town! Thank God 'my' entire family was involved and right there for me!
~My family gave me a nice big baby shower and believe it or not that's the only time my in-laws showed up and just grouped themselves away from everyone else, weird they are!
~I don't know how long her baby will be in NICU, but they provide daipers and papers that you wet instead of wipies. You can buy her own diapers and wipies and you can bring her preemie outfits to wear in the NICU. I had a pink and blue blanket and would place them on top of their incubator or once they transitioned to a glass crib I would half place it on it for cover. You could also buy recieving blankets and caps for her head.
~If she had a baby shower already and has pretty much what she'll need then I would wait to see how long baby will be in NICU if she is. And see what she didn't get that she can get in her other shower. A lot of the preemie outfits that were bought for my kids, by the time they came home, they didn't fit! :(
~At babys-r-us or walmart, target they sell 'head-rests' that come in two sizes for the carseat.
~I liked Dr Browns bottles because with those bottles babies don't swallow air and won't have gas. But there's other types too.
~ For my husband and I, it was his first babies and my seconds. But since my first set are 21 and 17, it felt like my firsts all over again but worse. We would drive 45 min back and forth everday to be with babies and I had to pump there and at home every 2 hrs! I was exhausted all the time!! I'd cry so much! When babies came home, we were so happy and so glad to not have to drive everday. We told everyone, well, my family, that we needed rest and they can come after a few days. My family completely understood. I didn't have to worry about in-laws since they never showed anyways. My mom and sisters would come and help me lots!! That help me so much! The time my husband and I needed alone with our twins was to really bond with them and hve a quiet home and re-group, clear out thoughts and just take in a deep breath of what we went thru! your sister-law is so lucky to have you. Best wishes and may God bless her pregnancy and her precious bundle of joy soon to make her anouncement to the world! :)

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answers from Johnstown on

There are shots she can get that help mature the baby's lungs in situations like this before the baby is born...I would highly recommend these are inquired about. There's also a good shot that the baby will be spending a long time in the NICU and won't be coming home just yet. I would also suggest that even if she is allowed to bring the baby home with her that--due to highly compromised immune systems in premies--she NOT have the baby around crowds or even many visitors at all for several weeks. My cousin's first was born around 30 weeks...Very rough start, but now completely healthy :) Praying for you!

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