Three Crucial Things Every Parent Should Know About Post-NEC Care for Preemies

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Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a fatal intestinal disease that occurs predominantly in premature babies. In most cases, cow’s milk-based infant powders, such as Enfamil, have been linked to this dreadful disease. 

This disease can trigger serious complications like sepsis, which might cause intestinal perforations or even take their lives. This blog post will talk about the essential aftercare measures for your little one, after being diagnosed with NEC. 

Comprehensive Feeding Plan: Take Help From Experts

The gastrointestinal health of your preterm baby might be hanging by a thread. You need to be ultra-careful with what and how you feed your baby. Even though mother’s milk is known to be very nutritious for a newborn, you might need to work in tandem with different specialists. 

  1. Pediatric Gastroenterologist: These are caretakers who are experts in digestive issues and child gut health. 
  2. Lactation Consultant: These consultants will guide you on breastfeeding or other options, like expressed milk.
  3. Neonatal Specialist: They have the master plan. They will be monitoring your child’s overall care and progress.

If you are advised to switch from intravenous to enteral, or oral, nutrition, you need to start by decreasing IV fluids gradually. This must be complemented by increasing the food supply using slow advancement protocols. For example, you can adopt a method where you increase by 10-20 mL/kg/day. Feeding such trophic amounts can help stimulate gut function. 

As mentioned before, refrain from using bovine-milk-based baby formula. The situation with these baby powders is so grim that many grieving parents have sued pharmaceutical giants for not informing them about the dangers in their formulas. The  NEC baby formula lawsuit alleges that the manufacturers knew about the fatal dangers, but stayed mum for profits!

It is better to stay away from these instant solutions. You can also always consider using protein modulars, such as Beneprotein, to enhance the preemie’s dietary intake.

Optimizing Your Home Environment for Post-NEC Care

Post-NEC home care requires a sterile environment to prevent other severe infections. What can you do that does not seem out of the world and overwhelms you but safeguards your child from external allergies? 

Start by practicing thorough hand hygiene. You can then incorporate habits like sterilizing the feeding equipment after every meal and minimizing contact with sick individuals in your family. The latter is especially important during respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza seasons.

Another feasible and sustainable habit is setting up a consistent feeding schedule and keeping distractions to a minimum. You can try responsive feeding approaches, such as cue-based feeding, to encourage self-regulation and limit the risk of overfeeding.

Finally, create a sleep routine for your infant. A very interesting way to do this is to set «back to sleep» guidelines for your newborn. These rules recommend placing infants on their backs for all sleep times. This does two things for the child: It reduces intestinal pain and builds a sleeping muscle memory. 

Vigilant Monitoring for Complications

A 4-month-old baby will not be able to tell its parents about the excruciating stomach pain, or bowel irritation. As parents, you must be extra vigilant in monitoring your child’s post-NEC complications. 

For instance, short-term complications might include constipation for days accompanied by difficulty eating. These may seem normal at first, but they are also symptoms of a condition known as stricture. In this condition, intestinal constrictions occur due to scarring. More often than not, treatment involves surgeries. 

Also, according to TorHoerman Law, a bacterial infection in the small intestine can cause long-term issues for your child. You have to be attentive to the smallest changes in your child’s behavior.

Visual symptoms might also start appearing after a few months. The extremely slow growth of limbs should be a worry. Moreover, gastrointestinal disorders, such as reflux, dysmotility, and food allergies, are more prevalent post-NEC.

Support Network For You, the Parents

Your newborn’s health condition is bound to take a toll on your mental health. The fatal nature of the disease can throw even the strongest couples off-guard. 

At a time when both of you would wish to spend every moment with your child, you also have accumulating medical bills to pay. Moreover, you also need to be financially prepared for future surgeries and treatments, if need be. For whoever decides to continue working, be it the husband or the wife, the decision can never be easy. 

We all grieve in different ways, and in most cases, they are mutually exclusive. The husband might not talk much about his issues, and the wife might take a completely different route to come to terms with her child’s health issues. However, as a couple, you would want to be there for your child and not let your sorrows dictate terms. 

If this transpires, you might want to seek emotional support. You both can do this by joining local or online groups for parents of preemies or NEC survivors. Seeing couples with problems similar to yours can be a big boost and help you both holistically see things. Whenever you both get time, practice self-care activities, such as mindfulness and exercising. 

The journey is difficult, but you have support if you just ask for it. If you both can, include your families in this journey. Educate them and your friends about your struggles and your child’s fight to ensure a supportive and well-informed environment. 

This is not a lost battle, and do not lose hope. Stay strong for your child’s smile. 

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