World Prematurity Day is designed to raise awareness of the problems facing premature babies, while also celebrating the development and growth of older babies and older premature babies. Prematurity Day is also designed to support our community members who work with newborns and preterm infants, and with parents of preterm infants.
Full pregnancy lasts between 37 and 42 weeks. This is the time required for the full and proper development of body systems. A preterm infant is a baby who is born before spending the full length of time in his mother's womb, i.e. 37 weeks (pregnancy time). Premature babies are first and foremost life-threatening, but even if they survive, they may have many special problems, which can include difficulty breathing, feeding difficulties and low birth weight.
Premature babies usually have a longer stay in the hospital than babies born in time, and many spend time in incubators in neonatal intensive care units until they can be determined to be stable and healthy enough to bring them home. This period is usually very difficult for many families.
There are several risk factors for preterm birth, such as the mother's lifestyle (alcohol use, drugs and certain medications), carrying multiple babies (twins or triplets), preterm birth history, diseases like preeclampsia or background diseases like epilepsy, but for many mothers who Premature birth, it is unpredictable and for no apparent reason or identifiable risk factors - mothers who are well cared for before birth, who do everything "right" and are still likely to give birth to their baby prematurely.
Thanks to advances in modern health, the prognosis for most premature babies has improved dramatically. Statistically, the earlier a baby is born, the more serious his or her health problems are likely to be but many of the premature babies grow up to be healthy and strong.
Here is a great story about premature babies:
The Power of a hug 🤱
On October 17, 1995, twins Kyrie and Brielle were born in Massachusetts to their parents Heidi and Paul Jackson. The birth occurred in the 28th week, i.e. the girls were born prematurely. As is customary in U.S. hospitals the twins are separated into separate incubators to prevent transmission of infections.
Kyrie, who weighed about a pound at birth, very quickly began to gain weight and get stronger. In contrast, her sister Brielle, who weighed a little less than a pound at birth, was unable to gain weight, and she had difficulty breathing and her blood oxygen level was low.
After about three weeks when the twins were in the hospital a sudden deterioration began in Brielle's condition. Her face, hands and thin legs turned blue, she struggled to breathe. Her parents looked at her, helpless, frightened and anxious for her life. The nurse, Gayle Kasparian, did her best to stabilize Brielle, but Brielle continued to writhe uncomfortably, her heart rate accelerated and her blood oxygen level dropped to dangerous levels.
As a last resort of despair and even though Gayle knew she was violating hospital procedures, she decides to take a risk and she puts the squirming preterm in the incubator next to her sister from whom she was separated immediately after giving birth. The parents and sister were amazed at what had happened.
As soon as the incubator door closed, Brielle curled up next to her sister and immediately calmed down. Kyrie placed her slender arm on her sister as she hugged and reassured her. Within minutes the oxygen readings in Brielle's blood were the best since her birth. She dozed off in a calm she had not been accustomed to since she went on the world air.
Since then, more and more medical institutions have adopted this procedure and it seems to significantly lower the days of hospitalization of preterm infants.
How to celebrate World Prematurity Day?
World Prematurity Day is a great time to look at the advances in prenatal and neonatal care, and to celebrate how new research and interventions have dramatically improved the possible outcomes for so many premature babies each year. If you are pregnant, World Pregnancy Day is a great reminder to consult with your medical caregivers at your birth.
Premature babies often have a hard time regulating their body temperature, so another way to celebrate World Prematurity Day is to give new blankets, hats, gloves or socks to parents of preterm infants or hospitals to their preterm wards.
World Prematurity Day is also a good time to contact parents who have premature babies, to see how things are going or to provide them with encouragement. If you are interested in helping families caring for premature babies, or learning more about the special issues facing those babies, feel free to contact the birth preparation centers, midwives or maternity wards at the hospital.