Preparing for a premature delivery
Preparing for A Premature Delivery
Every woman is filled with hope for having a perfect pregnancy and delivery. You may have considered the options and have a birth plan ready for the big day, but sometimes, things don’t go as planned. You could have a C-section or serious complication during pregnancy – such as preeclampsia – that could result in premature birth of the baby. But what are your baby’s chances of survival should you find yourself in that situation?
It all depends on gestational age
Your doctor would only recommend premature delivery if your baby has a greater chance for survival outside the womb than inside. That said, the longer your baby stays in the womb, the more time she has to develop and grow which increase her chances for good health long-term. Babies born after 34 weeks’ gestation are often born without serious problems, and most babies survive who are born as early as 32 weeks. At 25 weeks, the survival rate drops to 50%, and of those babies who make it, half are disabled for life.
Steroid treatments for lung development
Premature birth is risky any time, but when it is planned (versus spontaneous) there are some ways you and your baby can prepare. Every day spent growing inside the womb counts for preemie babies. Though the baby’s organs form early in pregnancy, some don’t develop enough to function properly until the last several weeks of pregnancy. The lungs are among the last to develop, which is why preemie babies have difficulty breathing. To boost the development of your baby’s lungs before she is born, your doctor may recommend steroid treatments.
A course of steroids involves two injected doses 24 hours apart. Babies who are treated with steroids in the womb have improved breathing, less chance of bleeding in the brain and a bowel condition called necrotizing enterocolitis, and a better outcome overall after birth. The baby can be treated with a second course of steroids to improve these statistics even more, but it depends on how long she can remain in the womb as the second course must be given at least a week after the first. Miraculously, babies and women treated with steroids experience no negative side effects.
What can I expect if I deliver prematurely?
Each situation is different when it comes to premature delivery. Mother or baby may have complications during the pregnancy, or sometimes the body spontaneously begins early labor for no apparent reason. Regardless, if you have a preterm delivery you might expect:
- Your baby to spend time in the NICU
- To pump for the first few days or weeks if you decide to breastfeed your baby
- An extended postpartum hospital stay
- Your baby to have a low birth weight
- Lots of testing and monitoring for you and/or your baby
- Special ongoing care at home after discharge from the hospital
- Your preemie to have developmental delays
- Your baby to follow the preemie growth chart
- An increased risk of SIDS. To learn more about how the MonBaby smart monitor tracks baby’s breathing and sleep position, click here.
It can understandably create some anxiety when things go wrong during pregnancy. Be sure to ask your doctor plenty of questions and learn all you can about what is happening. There are support groups online and likely in your own community where you can meet other parents who are experiencing the same things you are. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! With preparation, you and your doctor can help your premature baby have the greatest chance for survival possible.
Have you had any experiences with premature birth? Share your story with us in the comments!