Today is World Prematurity day!


World Prematurity Day on 17 November is one of the most important days in the year to raise awareness of the challenges and burden of preterm birth globally. World Prematurity Day calls attention to the special issues facing infants born prematurely, celebrates the development and growth of older babies and children who were born prematurely, and is a great day to support members of your community who work with newborns or premature infants, or are parents adjusting with a prematurely born infant.
The day was initiated by EFCNI and partnering European parent organisations in 2008. The international co-founders LittleBigSouls (Africa), March of Dimes (USA) and National Premmie Foundation (Australia) joined the celebrations and made World Prematurity Day an intercontinental movement. Meanwhile, countless individuals and organisations from more than 100 countries join forces with activities, special events and commit to action to help address preterm birth and improve the situation of preterm babies and their families.

What is Prematurity?

A full-term pregnancy lasts between 37 and 42 weeks, and “prematurity” describes when a baby is born earlier than 37 weeks (gestational time). Prematurely born infants face many special issues, which can include breathing difficulties, feeding difficulties, and low birth weight. Prematurely born babies generally have a longer hospital stay than babies born full-term, and many end up spending time in NICU units (neonatal intensive care) or special care nurseries until it can be established that they are stable and healthy enough to be brought home. This can be a very difficult time for many families.

There are some risk factors for having a premature birth, such as the mother’s general health and lifestyle choices, and carrying multiple babies (twins or triplets), but for many mothers who deliver a premature baby, it is unexpected, with no discernible cause or identifiable risk factors- mothers under excellent prenatal care, who do everything “right” can still end up delivering their baby prematurely. If you are pregnant, it is a good idea to learn the warning signs of pre-term labor, which include cramping, regularly times contractions, and backache, and discuss pre-term labor risks and planning with your care provider. If you do believe you are experiencing pre-term labor signs, it is critical to seek medical attention right away, because there are steps that can be taken to manage, delay, or prevent a baby from being born prematurely.
Thanks to advances in modern healthcare, the prognosis for most babies born prematurely has improved dramatically. Statistically, the earlier a baby is born, the more serious his or her health problems are likely to be.

 

A day like this is a great reminder of how grateful I am to live now with the medical advancements of the last century. Our boys arrived very early and had to stay in the hospital for a month. It was a difficult time, but the hospital staff was so supportive. I don’t even want to think about what could have happened, had we lived in different times. 

 

The hospital bag – some advice

After week 30 of your (twin-)pregnancy it is time to get your hospital bag ready. It may sound a bit early, but trust me, it’s better to have it prepared. You never know when you have to go.
Usually hospitals provide you with a list of things to bring and a lot of these items are very logical. First of all: think of your ID-document, to register you in the hospital.
Of course you need to bring your chosen ‘first’ clothes for your baby’s, but also important, little hats, socks and body’s and warmer clothes to bring them home in. In Belgium, hospitals will provide you with the other firsts, like nappies, cream etc. So no need to pack those.
Then of course you need to pack your own stuff like toiletries, clean underwear, breast feeding bra’s and pyjamas.

My advice; please make sure your pyjamas fit this description:
– loose and wide fit, so it will not hurt anywhere it already hurts
– big enough so it will cover everything if you need to wander the hallways
– buttons at the top for easy breast feeding
– pretty enough so you can wear them receiving the first visitors ( if you care about that stuff)
– pretty enough to be seen with in the first pictures (if you care about that stuff)

These are all the necessities that the hospital will mention, but I urge you to add the following to this list:
FOOOOOD!
I am not joking. Hospital food is crap and a natural delivery can take a long time. The hospital will not feed you in the delivery room, instead they hang the scary thought of emergency C-section over your head and in the meanwhile you have absolutely no energy to do what needs to be done. (making that C-section more likely to happen I think…)
So please bring energy bars, chocolate cookies, bread sticks etc. and anything else that fits in your bag. If you don’t need it during the delivery be grateful and it will still come in handy when you realise, in the days after, that hospital food is never sufficient. I am talking from experience here, I had my partner bring me fast-food every evening I spend in the hospital to silence my ever growling tummy.

 

PS. And for those of you who are pregnant now: please don’t worry about a prolonged hospital stay! If that happens there will be loads of time to get other things you may need there. Your partner can bring it and so can visiting family. So don’t look for troubles that are not there, take it one day at the time and prepare that bag so you don’t have to think about it anymore.

© Carien Touwen 2017