November is International Prematurity Awareness Month

November is International Prematurity Awareness Month. Premature birth is any birth occurring prior to 36 weeks gestation, and believe it or not, a large number of premature babies are born each year world-wide. In North America there are also a large number of options to help raise funds as well as awareness to help those affected by premature birth.

For those parents who have had to deal with a stay in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) feelings of dealing with their situation alone, that the situation is hopeless and even feeling sad and in shock are totally normal. We spent 54 days in the NICU after delivery my daughter at just 29 weeks and 2 days gestation. I know all too well just how physically and emotionally draining the preemie experience truly is.

No matter how tough we as preemie parents think we had it, nothing compares to the struggle our preemies had to fight through in the first minutes, hours and days of their lives. ‘Normal’ problems preemies have to fight through include serious medical conditions such as Bradycardia (A dangerous slowing of the heart rate) and Apnea (An abnormal pause in breathing). As strong as these little miracles really are, there are those who become the tiniest of angels after losing their fight to bacterial infections, collapsed lungs, and NEC (Necrotizing enterocolitis) among many other issues.

If you could take a look inside a level 3 NICU where the more serious cases stay, you would find parents sitting watching their babies sleeping inside their incubators. Watching helplessly as alarms go off and panicking each and every time. For some parents, they have a long, long wait before being able to hold their baby for the first time. Lucky for us, I was able to hold our daughter right after I delivered her as she was breathing well enough on her own thanks to steroid shots I was given to help develop her lungs. However once she was taken away it was almost a week before she was strong enough to be held again.

Like other preemie parents, I often spent my days from 8 am right up until 11 pm at night at the hospital with my daughter. We were lucky to live close to a hospital with a level 3 NICU but some parents come from out of province and other places too far to drive from daily. For those parents the Ronald McDonald house happily opens their doors.

Going home isn’t a complete break from the hospital either. Once my daughter was discharged from the NICU we found we had constant appointments with various specialists ensuring she was developing normally. From the Neonatal follow-up clinic right up to Ophthalmologists the visits continue right up until 24 months if all goes well. However, challenges often continue for those children severely affected by their prematurity.

Some of the worthy causes supporting efforts to meet the needs of premature infants and their families whom you can volunteer with or donate to, as I mentioned before, include the Ronald McDonald House, Human Milk Banks, Blood Banks, and so many others.

 

Thank you to Frugal Mom Eh! for this informative post

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