Up to 10% of babies are born prematurely in Australia (just over 26,000) and 13.4 million globally - Preterm Alliance. A premature baby is a baby who is born before 37 weeks and after 20 weeks. Preterm birth can occur for a plethora of reasons, including a chronic illness in the mother, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. While we all know not to smoke during pregnancy, please pay close attention to this critical advice as babies are 13% more likely to be born preterm if the mother smokes.

After birth, it’s very likely a premature baby will require medical care in a newborn intensive care unit (also called NICU) to ensure they have access to 24 hour care. Usually in NICU, each baby will be placed in an incubator (similar to a little cot), which keeps their body at a consistent temperature. It’s very normal to feel alarmed when and if you see cords and machines hooked up to your little one. While it can appear very distressing, this equipment is there to deliver fluids (if required) to the baby and monitor their heart rate & oxygen levels. Remember, while in NICU, they’re in the safest place.

Research has shown that some ways we can prevent preterm birth are not to smoke, not to take drugs (it’s important to check any medication with the chemist or GP), not to drink alcohol and to make sure you attend all antenatal appointments. This allows your medical team to monitor the babies development and highlight or rectify any issues as soon as possible.

Pending the gestation at which they were born, preterm babies may experience some health problems requiring them to stay in the hospital longer than babies born at full term. If you’re feeling distressed or worried, please talk to your midwife, obstetrician, hospital or friends who have experienced similar situations, about where to seek support.

See some links to supportive forums & other personal experiences below;

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