Guest Post featuring Kassi: [Top Gifts for Preemie (or New) Mamas!]

Friday, November 13, 2015

I'm excited to share a few guest posts, starting today, featuring Kassi, who you'll recognize from our series with Let's Eat Together!! She brought this idea to me and immediately I was TOTALLY on board; I knew how much this means to her and there was no question I was ready to support, 100%.
If you've been there, you know how intense/special/overwhelming/exciting/scary/etc. having your first baby can be.. Imagine being thrown into that with news your baby is on her way.. Except she's 10 weeks early. Kassi's story evokes many emotions in me, as a mother, as I try and imagine what she must have been going through. Regardless, Kassi has handled her journey in motherhood with grace and an inspirational passion. I have no doubt that will shine through in her series of posts.. 

This is the first in a short series of posts to bring awareness to premature births leading up to World Prematurity Day on November 17.
I may forget my husband’s birthday, my new house’s address, and sometimes my age, but that’s a number I never will. After my daughter, Nora, was born prematurely at 30 weeks she was whisked off to our hospital’s NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Admittance to Nora’s NICU required my husband and I to recite that number. It’s burned into my memory, that’s for sure.
Babies born between 23-36 weeks are considered premature. Worldwide there are 15 million premature babies born each year. Prematurity can be caused by certain behaviors like using drugs, but in many cases it is spontaneous and unexpected. Why should you care? With premature birth being the #1 killer of babies, each requires specialized care. The average medical cost for a healthy baby is $4,387. For premature babies the number skyrockets: $54,194 in medical costs.

Being a preemie parent is an unique experience. Chances are you may know a preemie parent now or will in the future because 1 in every 10 babies are born premature. Looking back on my time in the NICU, which was a “short” 22 day stay devoid of any complications, I wanted to share some of my top gift ideas for new preemie moms. For those of you with soon-to-be moms in your life, these are great registry gift ideas, too!
You’ll see many of the items featured here with links back to Amazon. Nope, no one is getting kickbacks around here. I’m just here to share what worked best for me.
So let’s get down to it. Here are the 8 Top Gifts for New Preemie Parents:
1.     Subscription to Amazon Prime - $99. This is a biggie for new mamas, new preemie mamas or those soon-to-be mamas who may be dealing with pre-labor complications. Parents with preemies on orders to stay away from public places after discharge from the NICU or during the winter cold/flu/RSV season benefit from free two day shipping. Access to the music, movie and Kindle book services would be great for a mama on bedrest or who is relegated to a long pre-delivery hospital stay. The Subscribe and Save service allows parents to schedule diaper deliveries monthly. Plus joining Amazon Mom (no cost) gets you 20% off diapers - literally the cheapest way to buy non-store brand diapers, plus there’s no coupons! All expecting moms (and preemie mamas) should create an Amazon Baby Registry and join Amazon Mom to receive 15% registry completion discount, meaning you receive a 15% discount on one order containing items from the registry, those that you didn’t receive as gifts. This gift keeps giving all through baby’s first year!
2.     Halo Sleep Sack Swaddles.  Containment is especially important for preemie babies who cannot draw their limbs into the fetal position, and newborn babies also benefit from swaddling/containment as a soothing mechanism. The solution is these snuggly, adjustable swaddle sacks by Halo. If you’re buying for a NICU-discharged preemie, I would buy the newborn or small size of the microfleece blanket, since those babies still aren’t carrying much body fat. Nora used hers several times daily and gradually changed to a cotton Halo Sleep Sack. Amazon sells them as cheap as $19 each. Babies R Us will often have a buy one, get one half off offer OR use their price match feature to get the Amazon price, if it’s cheaper!
3.     Soft Wraps. Many NICUs promote Kangeroo Care, or skin-to-skin contact, to help baby learn to regulate breathing, heart rate and body temperature, gain weight, and spend more time in deep sleep. Wraps allow preemies at home to continue with this practice. I specifically used this Boba Wrap that retails for around $40. Yes, it’s going to take some practice, but these carriers are great for older preemies (5 pounds with doctor approval) since they provide total containment and head support, plus it grows with baby. These wraps are compact to travel with, too. My only complaint was using them in the winter; I could never get it wrapped without the ends dragging on the wet pavement in the parking lot. They’re relatively inexpensive and there’s always a market for them at your local children’s resale shop if you dislike the particular brand or wrap.
4.     Journal or notebook. This Line-A-Day Journal was gifted to me after Nora’s birth and I still use it, admittedly more sporadically now than when she was in the NICU. Preemie mamas need a place to record all stats, test results and diagnoses they receive daily. Even just a simple journal can help preemie parents keep everything straight. Often there’s a lot of emotional baggage that comes with a premature birth. Having a journal is a good first step to working through those feelings and emotions.
5.     House Deep Cleaning. During my baby’s birth, her room-and the rest of the house-was being painted. Treat the new mom in your life with a house cleaning before her due date or before her baby’s discharge. If you’re not one to scrub floors, hire a one-time service. She’ll thank you, believe me.
6.     Breastfeeding support items for mom. Preemie babies don’t need much during their NICU stay. If the preemie mama in your life has plans to breastfeed, she can use all the help she can get! Here’s my favorite items from my time exclusively pumping in the NICU:  
    1. A quality hands-free pumping bra. This is the one I had which is one-size-fits-all, but this one or this one looks great, too.
    2. Extra pump parts. Ask what brand she’s using and purchase an extra set. Keep in mind, hospital pumps may have different tube fittings. Also, breast size will change, meaning she may need a new size of flanges. Medela is a popular brand, here is where you can buy an extra set of parts.
    3. Battery pack adapter or car adapter for her breast pump. Because - real mom talk here - sometimes you’ll pump in your car going to or coming from the NICU. Again, ask the brand and model before buying.
    4. These wipes are great for cleaning parts on the go (and for pacifiers, too!) and these steam bags come in handy to travel.
    5. Get her a nursing pillow. It comes in handy when baby is learning to feed in the NICU. It was the first baby item I bought after Nora’s birth! Don’t get all fancy - an Original Boppy is perfect!

7.     Newborn Photography Session. My most treasured photographs are those I took of Nora during her time in the NICU. Depending on the feelings of the preemie parents, and the NICU policy, scheduling an in-hospital photo session may be a great idea. For at-home newborn images, most newborn photographers recommend shooting newborns between day 5-14 for normal babies. Each preemie is different, but sometimes a discharged preemie will still be in the squishy, sleepy newborn phase so a newborn session is possible. Keep in mind, lots of babies go home on oxygen or with orders to stay out of public places. Talk with mom and hire a professional that is accustomed to working with newborns. They should charge from $150-$300+ for a session fee and be able to show a portfolio of newborn work. For families dealing with infant loss, a terminal pre-birth diagnosis or other serious medical issue, organizations like On Angel's Wings or Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep can provide no-cost photo sessions for families, babies, and expectant mothers.
8.    Payer cards, photos & encouragement. Even the policies on outside items allowed differs from NICU to NICU. Because ours did not have private rooms, space was limited and items like stuffed animals pose a germ risk to the whole row, I took in a photo of Nora's brother and a prayer card with the Hail Mary and a photo of the Blessed Mother. A little memento like that will hold big memories for the parents down the road.

DON'T buy preemie clothes. Buying a new preemie clothes is pointless. For a period of time, many early-term babies are in diapers within temperature controlled isolettes. The tiniest babies have skin too fragile for clothing. The hospital has it's own clothing that is specifically washed and handled to minimize germs and skin irritants. Some NICUs have a policy prohibiting parents from bringing clothes for their babies. Often by the time baby can wear the gifted clothes, it's the wrong season. If you're going to gift clothing, wait until baby comes home, but by that time newborn sized items may fit. At discharge, Nora was 5 pounds and already too big for preemie clothes.
Mark your calendars for this Tuesday, November 17, 2015 and find your favorite purple shirt to wear in celebration of World Prematurity Day. Stay tuned here on Chateau Deveau for my next installment on Monday, featuring a cookie recipe you'll want in your recipe box!
All statistical information provided by the March of Dimes whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.


  1. This is so cool! Chateaudeveau, i love you whole blog! How cool to have a guest spot too! This is a great community! Well done to you both! I'll of course be sporting purple tomorrow on honor of my 7 weeks preemie 1st born and 4 weeks 2nd :)

  2. The scrubs I got are a little stiff, but I bought them for a Halloween costume so I wasn't super concerned about that. I bought smaller size figs scrubs for men than the size chart suggested and they fit perfectly.