A preterm, premature or premature baby is one that is born prematurely or about three weeks before the due date. While normal pregnancies last for a period of about 40 weeks, preterm birth occurs at or before 37 weeks. We understand that premature birth is one of the most challenging experiences for a family, both physically and emotionally and it takes a lot of courage and stability to stand through it. Our hearts go out to all who have to go through this difficult time and we wish you all the strength in the world.
The purpose of this article is to spread awareness about the issues associated with premature birth for both the baby and the pregnant women. If you want to know about the causes of premature delivery, warning signs and measures to be taken to prevent premature delivery, then here is an article for you- Premature birth: Causes, warning signs and symptoms Preventive Measures.
Before we cross the bridge, let us first familiarize ourselves with some terminology and facts so that we can be the right channel towards making this world a better place for our children today, tomorrow and in the years to come.
(preterm labor, premature labor), (preterm birth, premature birth) – how similar or different are these words?
First things first, before time and before time are synonyms, meaning they mean the same thing and you can use them interchangeably.
Labor is a series of continuous, progressive contractions of the uterus that help dilate and dilate the cervix to allow it to move through the birth canal. Labor is further divided into 4 stages where the second stage is the birth of the child. However, unlike cases of normal gestation (beyond 37 weeks), where early labor is an early sign for childbirth, preterm labor is not always the cause of preterm birth. Premature labor may stop on its own, or with the right and timely treatment.
Once a child is born there are many factors that play a vital role in deciding whether the child will survive or not and what kind of life it will have. Let’s take a look at the most prominent ones.
Factors Contributing to Preemie Survival
- gestational age
Premature babies are divided into 4 categories based on their age of viability.
- late preterm , Babies born between 34 and 36 weeks.
- moderately preterm , Babies born between 32 and 34 weeks.
- very immature , Babies born between 28 and 32 weeks.
- very immature , babies born before 28 weeks
It is the most common factor used to estimate the survival rate of premature babies. The higher the gestational age, the higher the survival rate because the baby has had more time to develop inside the mother’s womb. Babies with a higher gestational age are at a much lower risk of health and developmental complications later in life. Fortunately, advances in medicine mean that even the tiniest of babies can grow up big and strong in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).
Babies born very premature have about 80 to 90 percent chances of survival, study shows University of Utah, This is made possible by their vital organs such as the heart and lungs developing to the extent of being able to support the babies’ life outside the womb. research indicates that babies born between 30 and 32 weeks, while still considered preterm, have at least a 99 percent chance of survival. They also have a much lower risk of later health and developmental complications. A range of 34 to 36 weeks, called “late preterm,” is the most common type. almost 100 percent survival chances,
- birth weight
Birth weight is one of the most important predictors of mortality, correctly predicting mortality in 82.9% of prematurity cases. A low birth weight (LBW) baby i.e. a baby weighing less than 5 ounces immediately after birth already requires some specialized care and premature birth further complicates the situation. Since a premature baby does not get enough time to develop completely inside the mother’s body, being underweight is one of their most common characteristics. Premature LBW babies are less likely to survive and are at higher risk of disability and health problems.
Because of biological makeup such as genes and hormones, girls born prematurely are more likely to survive than male babies. For example, estrogens strengthen the body’s immune defenses and help the body maintain itself in new environments.
- preterm birth history
Singleton preterm births are more likely to be viable than multiples.
The footnote is that medical advances are being made in caring for premature babies which means better outcomes and peace of mind for parents. While each week in the womb gives us more assurance of a healthy baby, know that your preemie’s chances of survival are increasing every day with medical advances. However, we cannot shy away from the fact that premature babies are at an increased risk of developing health issues ranging from short-term complications to long-term diseases. We can prepare ourselves only by being educated. Read on to learn about the possible health problems a premature baby may face.
Potential Health Problems in Premature Babies
While not all premature babies experience complications, being born too early can lead to short- and long-term health problems. At the same time, it’s also important to remember that the factors that affect a premature baby’s survival also affect their overall health status for the initial weeks or years afterward.
I. Short term health issues (life threatening)
- Respiratory problems due to immature respiratory system.
- Intraventricular haemorrhage (internal brain haemorrhage).
- Hypotension (low blood pressure).
- Hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature).
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
- The immature gastrointestinal system leads to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.
- blood infection.
- Neonatal jaundice.
- Immune system issues that make preemies more vulnerable to infection.
Second. long term
- Disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture due to infection, insufficient blood flow or injury to the undeveloped brain of the newborn.
- Slow recognition leads to learning disabilities.
- Impaired vision and even partial blindness in some cases.
- There is an increased risk of some degree of hearing loss or complete hearing loss.
- Dental problems such as late eruption of teeth, discoloration of teeth and improperly aligned teeth.
- Behavioral or psychological problems such as ADHD.
- developmental delays.
Now it is safe to say that we are aware of the health problems that our preemies may have to deal with. But what about mother? Does his body also suffer the consequences of this untimely process? How does it adjust to the changes? What about the psychological self? How to deal with the whirlwind of emotions around him? Continue reading this article where we delve into all these fears.
mothers and premature birth
As important as it is to take care of your child, his health condition can leave you in a helpless position. On top of all the concern about her physical condition, you may miss the experience of holding, breastfeeding, and bonding with your body as you might have hoped or planned. We can imagine how heartbreaking this can be but know that you are not alone. As aforementioned, new research is getting us closer to our enemies every day, quite literally. For example, This 2021 report Immediate kangaroo mother care, which includes skin-to-skin contact and exclusive breastfeeding, is suggested by the WHO to significantly improve a premature baby’s chances of survival. This means you will have the opportunity to spend time with your baby and play a vital role in helping them to sustain the consequences of prematurity.
However, the emotional trauma of this distressing experience can lead to various mental health conditions such as PTSD, anxiety and postpartum depression. Also, you may be ready to return home before your newborn is born, which may be difficult to accept, but trust the doctors and remember that your baby is in safe hands. You can use your time away from the hospital to get some much-needed rest and prepare your home and family for your baby’s return home. Once your child comes home, you can spend ample time with them. Hug or cuddle with them, they are yours and will be.