Premature labour and birth
Babies born between 37-42 weeks of pregnancy are considered full-term. Babies born before 37 weeks are considered premature. In most cases of premature birth, labour starts naturally and the signs will often be similar to that of labour that starts at full term. If labour start prematurely, there may be things your doctor can do to stop or slow down the progression of labour.
If your baby is likely to be born early, you will be admitted to a hospital with specialist facilities for premature babies, known as a neonatal unit. Babies born before 34 weeks of pregnancy may need help breathing, feeding and keeping warm and will most likely be admitted to a hospital with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
If you know your baby will be born early there are a number of things you can do to best prepare yourself and feel in control of your situation;
- Become familiar with what might happen in the birthing suite
- Know who will attend the birth
- Know where your baby will be taken after the birth
- Become well informed of your situation and possible outcomes
Your premature baby will need you to advocate for them while they are in the NICU and you will need to work closely with the medical staff to best take care of your baby.
For more information;
Pregnancy Birth & Baby – Signs of premature labour
Raising Children Network – Questions to ask about premature birth
Raising Children Network – Advocating for your premature baby in the NICU: Seven tips
Raising Children Network – Neonatal intensive care unit: What to expect