Premature birth throws parenting rules out the window, from skin-to-skin contact to comparing children.
A mother who had two children prematurely shares her experiences, which ‘changed how I thought I would parent, but didn’t make me any less of one,’ ahead of World Prematurity Day on Wednesday.
The expectations of parents and the realities of parenting are rarely the same.
Nothing could be truer than becoming a “preemie mom,” as I discovered when I gave birth prematurely at 32 weeks, an experience I’d like to share ahead of World Prematurity Day tomorrow.
I had spent the previous 17 years as a nanny and in other areas of the childcare sector working with babies, young children, and their families before having Ella.
In terms of practicality, this meant that I believed I would be a good mother.
I was confident in my ability to care for a baby and eager to put my years of experience to use.
I was under the impression that I knew what I was doing.
After that, my waters broke on my first day off in four months.
My expectations for motherhood shifted the moment Ella was born prematurely.
She was placed on my stomach for less than a minute before being whisked away to the SCBU.
I had to wait seven hours to see her due to complications with myself, and it took me 48 hours to get my first cuddle as a mother.
The anxiety and stress were unlike anything I’d ever experienced before.
These were not my expectations for my first hours as a mother.
My motherly guilt was palpable.
I felt like a total failure, and I was convinced that everyone else did, too.
During those hours, I shed a lot of tears.
It was physically and mentally exhausting.
As a preemie mom, I had to put everything I’d learned about babies on hold.
Each night, I had to say goodbye to Ella and return home because the hospital didn’t allow parents to stay at the time.
The hospital was 12 miles away, which may not seem like a long distance for a routine appointment, but it feels like a million miles when you’re leaving your baby behind.
UK news summary from Infosurhoy.
From skin-to-skin contact to comparing children, the birth of a premature baby rips up parenting rule books.
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The birth of a premature baby rips up parenting rule books, from skin-to-skin contact to comparing children
Fast facts: Premature births
An estimated 60,000 babies are born prematurely – classed as before 37 weeks – in the UK every year, amounting to one in every 13 babies.
Pre-term labour can be planned and induced as it’s safer to be born sooner rather than later, perhaps because of a health condition in the mother, like pre-eclampsia, or in the baby. Often, the cause of pre-term labour is not known.
One in 10 of all premature babies will have a permanent disability such as lung disease, cerebral palsy, blindness or deafness.
A boy born in the US at 21 weeks and a day, weighing less than a pound, has been certified as the world’s most premature baby to survive. Curtis Means, delivered in Birmingham, Alabama, last year was just 420g (14.8 ounces). Guinness World Records confirmed last week that Curtis, who is now doing well at 16 months old, set the new record.
A quarter of stillbirths and a fifth of premature births in England have been linked to poverty, race, weight and smoking, and could be avoided, says a study in The Lancet. Experts found 24 per cent of stillbirths, 19 per cent of live premature births and 31 per cent of live births of smaller babies were attributed to socio-economic inequality, and would not have occurred had all women had the same risks as those in the least deprived group.
The chances of survival still depend on which week of pregnancy the baby was born in.
The NHS has set a target of halving stillbirth and neonatal death rates, and reducing levels of premature birth, by 25 per cent by 2025.