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Discharge Instructions for Premature Birth

Premature birth is the birth of a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Home care can help support the baby. Medicine can help with a mother's healing.

Steps to Take

Home Care

To care for your baby at home:

  • Touch your baby often. This is called skin-to-skin contact.
  • Talk or sing gently to your baby to comfort him or her.
  • Sponge bathe your baby every 2 to 3 days.
  • Learn how to use a bulb syringe to clean your baby's nose.
  • Wash your hands often and do not spend time in crowds.
  • Breastfeed or bottle feed as you were taught by the care team.


Medicine may be given to ease pain. When taking medicine:

  • Take your medicine as advised. Do not change the amount or schedule.
  • Be aware of the side effects of your medicine. Tell your doctor if you have any.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Do not share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicines can be harmful when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one, including over the counter products and supplements.

Some medicines can pass through the breast milk and may not be safe for your baby. Some may also make you produce less milk. Check with the doctor before taking any medicine.


The doctor will need to check on you and your baby's progress. Be sure to go to all appointments.

Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occur

Call the doctor if your baby has:

  • A rectal temperature of 100.4 °F (degrees Fahrenheit) (38 °C [degrees Celsius]) or higher
  • Been crying without tears
  • Sunken eyes
  • Not had a wet diaper in 6 to 8 hours
  • A soft spot that bulges on the baby's head
  • A hard time waking
  • Problems breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in vomit or stool
  • Diarrhea often
  • Problems feeding
  • Changes in skin color

If you think your child has an emergency, call for medical help right away.


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American Pregnancy Association


Health Canada

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada


Breastfeeding. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/management/breastfeeding. Updated January 16, 2020. Accessed March 5, 2020.

Breastfeeding: effect on the infant. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:http://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Updated December 7, 2018. Accessed March 5, 2020.

Bringing your baby home. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/pregnancy_center/newborn_care/bringing_baby_home.html. Updated June 2018. Accessed March 6, 2020.

Preemie. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/preemie/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed March 6, 2020.

Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG  Last Updated: 1/13/2021