Before our own little mouse was born, I was a Neonatal Surgical Nurse Specialist at an amazing centre for neonatal surgery in London. As part of this role, one of my favorite aspects of the job was looking after the neonatal stomas, my patients families often commented on my passion for them!!
There are many reasons why a baby may need a stoma but one of the most common is in the treatment of NEC. A stoma is when a surgeon brings a part of the bowel to the surface of the skin. When it used in NEC, it aims to allow the effected part of the bowel to rest by diverting the bowel contents away from it.
The bowel contents (poop basically) drain into a bag which is stuck onto the skin. Because little babies are so small and so wriggly it can be hard to make these bags stay in the right place, so the peadiatric stoma nurses are fabulous at helping families to care from them. The nurses on the neonatal unit are also ace at such things and will teach the families lots of useful tips.
When the surgeons and the Neonatal team are happy they can try and reverse the stoma and this means that the baby can poop out of their bottom again. These first poops are often the source of great joy for the families!!
Dressing a baby with a stoma (when the doctors are happy for them to be) can be a little difficult especially if the bag is over the waist line. Tight clothes can often squash the bags and cause them to leak. Our little premature trousers are elasticated so gentle on tummies, and the wrapover tops mean they can be adjusted to account for the bag. We also have premature smocks, the best way to describe these is an edwardian long nightshirt type of attire without the frills, but are perfect for babies who have had surgery. They allow nurses easy access to check the bags and to look at the skin, and are quick and easy to put on so the babies can get lots of rest.
For tiny babies we have some lovely soft jersey trousers, and sleepsuits with wrapover poppers which would be perfect.