Trigger warning, premature birth <3
November 17th is recognized worldwide as "World Prematurity Day"
It is tragic we need a day to bring awareness to this issue, as the smallest and most helpless of our society are those being recognized. For many families in our community, this reality hits very close to home.
Some stark statistics according to WHO:
- Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of gestation), and this number is rising.
- Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age, responsible for nearly 1 million deaths in 2015.
- Three-quarters of them could be saved with current, cost-effective interventions.
- Across 184 countries, the rate of preterm birth ranges from 5% to 18% of babies born.
There are even breakdowns of how premature a baby can be, depending on weeks of gestation prior to the premature birth.
1 in 10 babies is going to be born prematurely. Those visions every pregnant mother has of a peaceful birth, a gentle ride to the hospital full of anticipation, 2-3 days of recovering and coming home with baby, are dashed when the reality that baby is here, early, comes in. The birth is day one of a roller coaster of emotions, needs, emergency care, help with other children at home, how to handle a partner's job, your maternity leave, etc...
It is so important for families who have a little who has come to soon to have resources and help. Over the years, we have heard such beautiful stories of the nurses and doctors who care for the tiniest of patients, often putting in overtime hours and extra measures of comfort for families who are cheering on their little fighters.
If you have a friend or loved one who has just given birth to a preemie, jump in with how you can help. If they have other children at home, that may be their biggest source of worry outside that tiny incubator. Offering to keep them busy, take them on playdates, stock the fridge and rotate the laundry can help beyond measure. Often parents to a preemie feel torn between being by baby and feeling like they are neglecting their older children. Any help is welcome, and that is a great place to start.
Cash and meals are needed as well, trips back and forth to the hospital mean driving time is increased, which means gas money goes quickly. It takes time to go through a drive thru, often parents to a preemie will eat a cold sandwich a kind nurse brings, so home cooked meals or money for the hospital cafeteria are the best gifts.
If the premature hospital stay turns into a long term journey to health, many websites offers apps now to plan meal chains for families. You can also include housecleaning help, child care arrangements and other domestic services.
Most of all, support and love are needed. Parents will often be exhausted, lack of sleep, and anxiety over their new baby will take hold, and talking about their new baby will bring peace. It can be very healing to say their names, talk about their victories, and their goal of coming home.
For those families who have walked the road of premature birth, tell us below what helped you the most, or share your beautiful fighter's stories with us.
We hope this day brings peace to you <3