Pregnancy is a joyful experience any mother would love to have, and as she is closer to the due date all she wants is to deliver a healthy child. This finish line (due date) does provide her with the space to plan for the new guest arriving soon.
Any baby born between 37 to 42 weeks of pregnancy is called a full-term baby; however, in certain instances, a baby might be born much ahead of 37 weeks termed as a premature baby or the Preterm Baby.
Preterm birth can impose a certain set of injuries on the development of a baby. Following are some of the myths about preterm birth:
Myth 1: Parent to themselves – we caused this
Fact: Parents go around with guilt that they are responsible for causing this preemie, feeling powerless that they could not support the baby through the term, while the fact is that there is no definite cause for premature births in about 50% of cases as per the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO says 15-20% of cases are due to pre-existing medical conditions during pregnancy such as intrauterine growth restriction, preeclampsia, placental abruption and 30% due to preterm premature rupture of membranes.
Most often preterm deliveries can occult hidden infections that can’t be picked up. Environmental factors, genetics, infertility treatment-related issues, stress, and anxiety could also be some of them.
Myth 2: No bonding with the baby soon after birth
Fact: Premature babies soon after birth are monitored closely in the Neonatal Intensive care Unit (NICU).
Unable to hold the baby close, parents experience that they cannot bond with the baby. However, even at NICU, there are several ways for a parent to create that bond such as:
- Be a part of skin-to-skin that parents can do for up to 18 to 20 hours a day
- Help by feeding the baby and changing diapers
- Singing & playing soft music to your baby
- Help the staff by recording the baby’s temperature
- Leave some of your clothes like a blanket, etc which has your scent in it.
Myth 3: Preemies grow up in size to the sizes of their counterparts, very soon, by the age of 5 years
Fact: Not necessarily. Although after age 2 parents stop correcting their kids for adjusted age, the fact is that all kids need not go that far to showcase their development.
Some preemies continue to have low-birth-weight, developmental challenges, and underdeveloped gross and fine motor skills such as balancing, holding a pencil.
Identifying and providing appropriate care at the right time will improve the condition.
Myth 4: Preemies are ready to be discharged once they reach 1.4 kg to 1.8 kg.
Fact: Although the baby has hit a major milestone in his/her life, it’s not the end of it. Certain clinical criteria have to be met for the baby to be released to his parents to enjoy their warmth.
- Baby should be able to hold onto to their normal body temperature without external aids such as blankets.
- Able to breathe on their own without external oxygen
- Able to take in a good amount of calories while feeding through mouth
- Able to gain satisfactory weight
- No signs of breathlessness/change in heart rate
Myth 5: Your 36 weeks old joy isn’t a preemie at all
Fact: Babies born anywhere between 34th and 37th week are called “preterm babies”.
Developmentally they are yet to reach their fullest potential. Even though they almost resemble the term babies, they do face a lot of challenges like –
- Breathing difficulties
- Low blood sugar levels
- Unable to latch and feed on their own; have to be bottle-fed
Though they recover from the above challenges, they continue to have very mild behavioural and learning difficulties as they grow further in life.
It’s important for both partners to be aware of the facts about the preemies, more so for pregnant women and parents of a preemie. If you still have few queries about preemies, consult our expert doctors now.