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Spring and early summer are notorious times for babies jumping the gun and surprising their parents with a spontaneous early birth, all due dates and birth plans aside.

Some parents even go as far as booking an elective surgical procedure to ensure that the arrival of their baby fits in with their schedule. Unfortunately, Mother Nature ultimately decides when it’s time and there is little that parents and doctors can do about it. However, good antenatal care goes a long way in helping prevent a premature birth.

Carrying multiples or suffering from infections or high-risk pregnancies (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) and even maternal age are some of the reasons for many preterm births.

“Many parents of premature babies are left with many questions and feelings of inadequacy.”

Many parents of premature babies are left with many questions and feelings of inadequacy, as if they are directly responsible for their bodies not holding on for the full term. Of course, this is not the case.

Premature categories according to the World Health Organisation

  • Late preterm: 32 to 37 weeks
  • Very preterm: 28 to 32 weeks
  • Extreme preterm / Micro-preemies are babies that are born at less than 28 weeks. These babies battle to survive, but technology and medical knowledge has improved so much that these babies have shown marked improvement in terms of how they perform later in life.

Fortunately, the average size preemies (between 30 and 37 weeks) tend to do well, depending on the reasons for prematurity and availability of medical support in those cases.

What you can do as a pregnant mom to minimise risk of prematurity

  1. Be diligent in attending your antenatal care.
  2. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and rest when you feel tired.
  3. Seek answer when there is deviation from the norm.
  4. Avoid stressful situations as they don’t contribute positively to pregnancy.
  5. Pregnancy is not a contest. Stay in your lane and focus on yours.

What to do when prematurity is inevitable or has happened

  • Visit your baby often. Bonding, touch and voices play a major role in speeding up recovery.
  • Seek answers but don’t be too aggressive. The medical personnel are there to help you and your baby, and you need their support and compassion.
  • If you’re are passionate about breastfeeding, keep expressing preferably every three hours. Even if your baby is being tube fed, you can build a supply for when the time is right.

Also read:

The number of premature baby deaths is still too high. What can be done about it?
Too soon: Prematurity and early arrivals

Xoli Makabane babyyumyum expert
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