The best part about pregnancy is undoubtedly its nail-biting finish. The flurried rush to the hospital, the palpable excitement. It’s all quite magical. Almost like the climax of a movie starring you as the protagonist.
Usually, the last mile of pregnancy is flagged at 37 weeks. But if you have a curious baby whose anticipation cannot be contained, you may be surprised even earlier. Babies born before the 37-week threshold are known as preterm babies, affectionately referred to as preemies.
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And while meeting your baby sooner rather than later can seem like a favourable proposition, premature babies are susceptible to health risks like cerebral palsy, hearing problems, sight issues and developmental delays. The earlier a baby is born, the greater the risk.
17th November is earmarked as World Prematurity Day. It is a little reminder that 1 in 10 babies across the globe is born prematurely. And only 75% of them make it.
There are measures that pregnant women with a risk of delivering early can adopt, to reduce their chances of giving birth before full term. Here are some of them:
- By tweaking your nutritional intake, augmenting your vitamin supplementation and banning cigarettes from your life, your baby has a stronger chance of a full-term birth.
- Studies show that calcium supplementation can reduce your chances of delivering prematurely by nearly 25%.
- There are also hormonal interventions that can be administered if there is a likelihood of premature delivery. Progesterone soothes the uterine musculature, regulates cervical length and prevents inflammation, all of which help in keeping your baby tucked safely in your womb. Progesterone is especially helpful for women who have a short cervix.
- During childbirth, the cervix contracts, and if progesterone fails to work adequately, your obstetrician may perform a cervical cerclage. A cerclage is a procedure that creates a suture around the cervix to prevent it from broadening. Sonography can help detect whether a cerclage needs to be performed on you.
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Premature births are spurred by various factors. If you suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure, are underweight or obese or have a vaginal infection, you are more likely to deliver early. Your chances of delivering prematurely also increase if you are expecting more than one baby.
Doctors sometimes medically induce births, but even in such instances, it is recommended that the 39-week mark is crossed before labour is induced.
With superior medical infrastructure available across the world, exclusive treatment methods have emerged to support babies as premature as 24 weeks. In most advanced birthing centres, a preterm birth involves a baby being gently swathed in warm blankets and wheeled directly to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
The baby is then placed in an incubator under radiant warmers. The incubator acts as a resilient shield against germs and bacteria and is equipped with a plethora of life-support devices that aid in respiration, cardiac function, brain activity and temperature control.
If you face the risk of delivering a preterm baby, consult your obstetrician to discuss ways in which you can defer your delivery or prepare for a preterm one.
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The seasoned neonatal team at Cloudnine is experienced at handling high-risk preterm deliveries. Our NICU has been certified as Level-3 by the National Neonatology Forum and has the most advanced neonatal equipment in the world. Our GE Giraffe incubators and medical infrastructure form an uplifting ecosystem for your baby to thrive in and our facilities are specialised in caring for babies as premature as 24 weeks.
At Cloudnine, we celebrate preterm babies just as we do our full-term ones. Who said early arrivals were reserved only for the airport?