November is Prematurity Awareness Month.
India has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of preterm births in the world. Approximately one to ten babies are born prematurely. In this scenario, we are equipped to handle preterm babies and care for them to grow into healthy children.
A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. Preterm labor is labor that starts between 28 weeks of pregnancy and until 37 weeks.
However, going into preterm labor does not automatically mean that a woman will have a preterm birth. But it needs to be medically attended to right away.
Preterm birth is the birth of a baby before 37 weeks.
Common causes of preterm birth include multiple pregnancies, infections and chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure; however, often no cause is identified. There could also be a genetic influence.
Preterm babies are born if the pregnant lady undergoes any of the conditions given below:
• It could be that the previous baby the woman had was premature
• The woman is carrying more than one foetus in her womb.
• Short cervix
• Early cervical dilation
• Injury during a previous pregnancy
• Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
• Infections during pregnancy
• Dietary deficiencies
• Low weight of the pregnant lady
• Smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy
• Age below 17 or more than 35 years
You would know you are going into preterm labour when you experience the following symptoms:
• Mild abdominal cramps, with or without diarrhea
• Vaginal discharge that is water, bloody or with mucus
• An increase in the discharge
• Pelvic or lower abdominal pressure
• Constant mild back-ache
• Regular or frequent contractions, often painless
• Ruptured membrane (your water breaks or is a trickle leak)
Please seek instant medical advice if any of these symptoms show up.
Management of preterm labour:
Preterm labor can be managed depending on what is good for the mother’s or the baby’s health. There are effective medicines to strengthen the foetus and help organs mature quickly, reduce the risk of complications, attempt to delay delivery for a short period, to maintain uterine relaxation to delay delivery giving time for the fetus to mature.
Preterm babies tend to have low weight. Underdeveloped organs, breathing difficulties, and vision problems. However, long-term complications are more challenging. Children may develop learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, and behavioral problems. If you have given birth to a preterm baby before, you know the complications and problems that premature infants face. It is important to keep in mind that for any future pregnancies, we need to completely prevent preterm birth to have a positive impact on your child’s health. Prenatal care is important to prevent having preterm babies. Frequent visits to your doctor and close monitoring of the fetus may help you in having a normal baby.
Your baby will have a higher chance of staying healthy later in life if the delivery can be delayed by one or two weeks.
The heartening fact is that many preterm babies catch up with the normal development of full-term babies by the age of 3. But these babies need special care till they reach the stage where they start crossing milestones like normal full-term babies.
There are some things you can do at home if you have any signs of preterm labour. Lie down turned to your left for a while till the pain subsides. Have water or a fresh juice. Avoid having coffee or any carbonated drinks. If you are comfortable take it easy the rest of the day. If you are still in pain, visit your doctor immediately.
If you know that your baby is premature, get all information you can from your doctor. You can even visit the birthing suite and the nursery where your baby will be looked after.
Prenatal yoga helps prevent and ease joint pains, and headaches improves blood circulation, and regulates oxygen supply. Ensure that you take the prescribed dose of vitamins. Avoid alcohol and smoking during pregnancy. Walking improves blood circulation and improves fetal health. Drink enough water. Keeping yourself healthy, comfortable and positive during pregnancy and do not stress as your baby will be looked after.
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has highly trained doctors and nurses who closely monitor your baby’s progress. Our NICU involves parents and doctors and nurses who take you into confidence on your child’s condition.
We, at Ramaiah Memorial Hospital, are fully equipped to make your pregnancy and delivery comfortable and relaxed. We have the best obstetricians & gynaecologists, paediatricians, neo natologists and nurses standing by to take care of you and your baby.
Obstetrician & Gynaecologist