Little Adam is just 23 weeks inside Mommy’s tummy. He could already hear everyone outside talking loudly but those are quite strange sounds for him. He wants to find out who’s making those noises but everything is still dark. All he knows is that Mommy’s voice is really soothing and he is missing it. He feels like there is something wrong with Mommy, or is it him? One thing’s for sure, he wants to stay inside his dark, warm, and squishy home where he would be left in peace sucking his thumb or maybe stretch out a bit when he feels like to. But alas, his wish would never come true. Bright lights pierce through Little Adam’s thin eyelids and it seems that he is gasping for air…
Not an unlikely story
Little Adam’s story is not an uncommon experience for parents around the world. Premature or preterm births happen when a baby arrives earlier than 37 weeks of pregnancy. Every year, premature babies are estimated to be around 15 million and still increasing. South Asia and Africa experience more than 60% of these preterm births.
Most preterm babies have spent at least 32 weeks inside the womb before taking a peek outside the real world so they have a good survival rate and can still grow healthy and strong like babies born on term. Still, there are many miracle stories like Little Adam who have experienced severe weight loss in just a few days after being born and yet, hold on to dear life. Even science sometimes cannot explain where they get their will to live and to be given a chance to serve their purpose on earth.
Why do babies arrive ahead of time?
Many factors contribute to having a premature baby like hereditary/genetic influence, vaginal infections and cervical weakness, abnormal uterus, chronic conditions like having high blood pressure or diabetes, and other medical or non-medical factors.
Nevertheless, scientific studies still cannot pinpoint a specific culprit although the following situations might also increase the chance of experiencing a preterm labor:
– Those who are pregnant with more than one baby;
– Those that have physically demanding jobs or that require long hours at work;
– Those that are smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages, or addicted to any kind of prohibited drugs or substance;
– Those who are not within their ideal body weight – being underweight or overweight;
– Those that have already experienced having a premature labor;
– Those that experience heavy bleeding during pregnancy; and,
– Those whose water bag breaks early.
Even though no single factor can be identified as the main reason why preterm birth happens, it is always strongly advised to seek the advice and help of professionals on a regular basis so they can assist pregnant women in understanding the factors and mechanisms and developing a better solution to prevent premature labor.
How do I know that I am going through a preterm labor?
Even if having a preterm labor is something that you cannot avoid, you can do something to decrease its negative effect on you and your baby. Look out for these signs or symptoms so you can properly address the situation:
– If you are having contractions every 10 minutes or less
– If there is vaginal discharge or bleeding
– If you feel dull yet persistent backache
– If you are having cramps similar to what you have during your monthly period
What do I need to do if I experience preterm labor?
Contact your midwife, doctor or hospital immediately to avoid any complications or further medical problems. You need to communicate with your health care provider to make informed decisions that can save your life and your baby’s life as well. You can only be sure that you are experiencing preterm labor if your cervix is opening up.
Bringing Little Adam home
Little Adam stayed in the NICU for three months. For weeks, it didn’t look like he’s gonna make it but after patiently waiting, he can now finally breathe in his own and he loves the milk from his mommy. His body temperature is quite stable already and he is gaining the weight he has lost during the first few days. He is now ready to go home.
Your baby’s experience in the womb
Premature labour and birth
Understanding Preterm Labor and Birth — the Basics