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Going home on Oxygen

Most premature babies at some point during their hospital stay will require Oxygen.

Some of these babies who have particularly severe respiratory problems will require oxygen therapy at home after they leave the hospital.

It is estimated that 5% of preemie babies require home oxygen.

Did you know that in some parts of the world babies have to stay in hospital until they are no longer oxygen dependant, which can be quite a while.

If a baby requires just a small amount of oxygen at home then Oxygen cylinders tend to be used. These tend to be large for home use but smaller ones which are portable can be used for going out. Donít think that being on home oxygen limits what you can do!

The cylinders have a flow meter on the top so you can set the right amount for you baby.

 

 

When a larger amount is needed then an oxygen concentrator is generally used which is plugged in via the mains and takes in normal air and filters everything out, concentrating the oxygen.

 

When a concentrator is needed this will have to be fitted in advance as pipes will be fitted unobtrusively in the home so the oxygen can be piped throughout. Little Ďtapsí are fitted which the oxygen piping from your baby is attached too. One of these outlets is usually fitted downstairs and one upstairs for easy movement around the home.

 

As I live on 3 floors I used to use an oxygen cylinder when travelling around the home and then just plug my son back into the supply when I got to the room with the outlet. Donít worry though, the company who fit this for you will show you how to use it properly. If you are using a concentrator always make sure you have a cylinder in the home for back up in case of a power cut. Be prepared though, these concentrators can be a bit noisy as they make a continual humming noise and they also tend to throw out a lot of heat.

Donít worry about running costs either. Periodically the oxygen company will come and service your machine and will also take a reading from it(it has a counter) and you are reimbursed for the electricity used.

 

Some children may go home with an Oxygen saturation monitor but not all so itís important to get to know the appearance of your baby. If you are at all worried about your childís colour or there breathing rate then donít hesitate to contact a health professional.

            

As a childís lungs start to heal the oxygen they require decreases until eventually they no longer need it. In my sons case this took 9 months from leaving the hospital but it varies widely with each individual.

If the amount of oxygen needed is above 0.5litres then it usually needs to be humidified, this is easily done with a small humidifier filled with water being attached to the piping.

 

 

As my son was in 1 litre of oxygen we required this to ensure the nasal passages did not dry out.  

Itís advisable to contact your home insurers and also the local fire brigade to let them know you have oxygen in the home. Also your car insurers if you shall be carrying oxygen in the car. 

Like I said previously, if you want to get out and about please donít be daunted by the prospect of taking an O2 dependant child out. We took our son to lots of places with his oxygen including on a boat. Once you get used to lugging the oxygen cylinders about it soon becomes quite easy.

 

 

A couple of tips that you might find useful when you get home.

 

        Ask for long oxygen tubing so that itís easier to move around

 

        Make sure your pram has a large tray underneath to store portable cylinders.