We see a lot of questions about photographing premature babies in the newborn community. In this article, we’ll cover the most common queries to help you prepare for photographing a preemie newborn baby.
A premature baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. The majority of early preterm babies develop normally with no serious long-term problems. But we still need to be considerate to both baby and parents as their birth could have been an unexpected and stressful start to their life together.
So, understanding them and some of the health issues they could potentially have all comes down to communicating with the parents. At the end of the day, safety and trust are essential.
What to know when photographing premature babies
- Premature babies may have had respiratory problems related to immature lungs. The muscles that manage breathing are also involved in their postural control, therefore effectively maintaining their posture if there is increased respiratory effort.
- Premature babies might be more alert, and stiffer in the joints.
- They might also have trouble falling into a deep sleep, and sleep lightly for around 80% of their sleep time. Full-term newborns sleep deeply half the time. Wrapping and working with them specifically will ensure a smooth session.
When to photograph preemie babies
With full-term babies, we usually like to photograph them within their first 10 days or so, after birth. For preterm babies, that’s often not possible as many need an extended stay in hospital. In most cases, once baby has been cleared by their doctors to leave the hospital, it would be ideal to get them in for their session as soon as possible.
How long does a preterm newborn session take?
When communicating with parents of preemie babies, it’s wise to advise them that the session may take a little longer than normal, as they may take longer to get to sleep, or be less likely to remain asleep than full-term babies. Of course, each baby is different, but the important point is to communicate with your client so they are aware of the possibilities and know what to expect.
Outfit size for premature newborns
We know that babies come in all shapes and sizes, and that applies to preemies also. It’s always handy to have a few smaller outfits in your collection once you know you may have a premature baby to photograph soon.
In most cases, you will have some notice and time to prepare, depending on baby’s NICU stay. And of course, as many preemies will be weeks or months old by the time they are released and come to you, despite their “age”, they may even be within the size averages of full-term newborns.
Wraps are very versatile for babies of any size, and they also offer the support to help achieve a smooth session.
Photographing Premature Babies
Having a premature baby can be an understandably stressful experience for parents, many of who will spend much of their time in the NICU waiting to be able to take their baby home.
When it comes to photographing premature babies, it’s important to be empathetic to the family’s experience. Listen to any concerns and queries they may have, so that they gain a clear understanding of what to expect from their family’s newborn session.