Keeping Warm, Even in the Summertime
Did you know that babies born before 32 weeks gestation have very little body fat and are too immature to regulate their own temperature, even in a warm environment? When babies are cold, they use energy and oxygen to generate warmth. If skin temperatures drop by even one degree, a baby's oxygen use can increase by 10 percent! When lungs are already immature, this extra use can be critical. Directly after birth, the baby is placed in a plastic bag. Their thin skin means water evaporates through it quickly, so putting them in plastic bags before wrapping them in blankets can keep them warmer than a blanket by itself. Then, they are placed into isolettes. An isolette is a clear, plastic, enclosed crib that maintains a warm environment for a new baby and protects him or her from germs. This is a picture of Flynn is his isolette at one week old. Temperature regulation is so important that time outside of the isolette is extremely limited and even cares (like diaper changes, temperature taking, and mouth-swabbing) must be done through the portholes of the isolette, which is just as difficult as it sounds at first. Also, it isn’t until around 32 to 34 weeks, depending on the circumstances, that babies are ready to wear clothes for the first time. I asked our sweet nurses for an early St. Patrick’s Day exception and was granted some dress-up time for our little leprechaun, Flynn Reilly Mulligan. We couldn’t start dressing him regularly, however, until almost two weeks later. Dressing my sweet boy and doing his laundry was one of the first things I could do that made me feel like a mom.