Meet Leah, Preemie Parent Mentor
My preemie(s) was born at: 31 weeks, 6 days
Days spent in the NICU: 29
Current age of preemie(s): 19 months old
Parent of Multiples: No
Our NICU Journey included: Pre-term labor (with PROM), feeding tube, formula feeding, coming home on an apnea monitor, working with Early Intervention services, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and sensory challenges.
My preemie son was classified as a “feeder-grower” in the NICU, meaning he did not have serious complications and mostly needed to focus on getting bigger/stronger and learning to eat in order to make the transition home. Feeding is a charged topic no matter what. Early on, we experienced a lot of challenges with pumping/breastfeeding, so decided to switch my son to formula at three weeks old. I know from experience that when parents make choices about feeding there can be some pushback. But we were clear about our wishes and it was 100% the right decision for all of us. My son thrived beautifully on preemie formula.
Since leaving the NICU, we have utilized occupational and speech therapy services to address speech, sensory, and other challenges. As a parent mentor, I hope to offer support to parents who are getting adjusted to their role as preemie parents and looking to build confidence in advocating for their babies. I have had the good fortune to meet several other NICU families since my son was discharged in 2014. They have been a great support to me and it’s been so comforting to speak to others who share the prematurity experience. I look forward to providing support to any parents of premature babies and kids who would like to talk to another parent whose journey was similar to their own.
Sensory Issues in Preemies
Because premature birth can interrupt neurological development that would normally take place in the womb and preemies are subjected to stimuli (sights, sounds, and sensations) they would not have experienced until later in their development, it’s not uncommon for premature babies and kids to have sensory issues. These can range from diagnosed sensory processing and integration disorders (SPD/SID) to mild sensitivities to noise, light, taste, and touch.